Suicide bomber kills 50 at Afghan volleyball match

Map of Afghanistan with the province of Paktika highlighted.Wikimedia

A suicide bomber at a sporting event caused the deaths of 50 people and injured 60 more in Afghanistan on Sunday.

The attack occurred during a volleyball match in Paktika's Yahya Khail district, near Pakistan.

"The suicide attacker was on a motorcycle," Paktika Deputy Governor Attaullah Fazli told AFP. "A lot of people including some provincial officials and the police chief were there. About 50 people have been killed, and 60 injured, a lot of them seriously."

No group has taken responsibility for the attack, although the Taliban has orchestrated a series of attacks Afghanistan in recent weeks.

Paktika's Urgun district was the target of a July terrorist attack that killed at least 41 people and injured dozens more. A suicide bomber driving a truck loaded with explosives detonated near a busy marketplace and mosque. The Taliban denied involvement in the bombing, which occurred during Ramadan.

The volleyball match bombing occurred the same day that Afghanistan's House of the People overwhelmingly ratified an agreement to allow 12,000 NATO-led soldiers to stay in the country through 2015 in an operation called "Resolute Support."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed the agreement immediately after taking office in September, and the international troops will "train, advise and assist Afghan security forces," according to his spokesman, Nazifullah Salarzai.

"Afghan forces are responsible for the security and defense of the Afghan people, and in the fight against international terrorism and training of our national security forces we count on the support and assistance of our international partners," Salarzai told the Associated Press.

Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the agreement during his term.

Although the White House previously stated that US soldiers will no longer engage in combat missions in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported that President Obama signed an order allowing direct combat against Taliban fighters.

"We will no longer target belligerents solely because they are members of the Taliban," a White Hosue official told CNN.

"To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al Qaeda, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe."