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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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Scores killed as suicide bomber targets Afghan volleyball tournament

The attack on the sports event in Yahyakhail district

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KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber left at least 45 people dead at a volleyball tournament in eastern Afghanistan Sunday after detonating an explosive vest amid spectators.

A spokesman for the governor of Paktika province confirmed to international media that the attacker had detonated the bomb amid a crowd of people gathering for a game, the attack left an additional 60 people wounded.

The attack on the sports event in Yahyakhail district came just a day after Afghan MPs approved security deals allowing NATO and US soldiers to remain in the country after most other foreign troops have completed their withdrawal next month.

Around 12,000 troops will make up the US-led NATO force and while their mission has been defined as training, advising and assisting the Afghan security forces, US President Barack Obama has indicated that a separate force remaining in the country will continue to target al-Qaeda.

President Barack Obama on Saturday announced that he has approved guidelines to allow US troops to fight the Taliban in additional to al-Qaeda and provide air support for Afghan missions.

Sunday's bombing occurred when a crowd of spectators were preparing to watch the final of a regional volleyball tournament. According to local reports, the attacker detonated the explosives after making his way to the centre of the gathering.

A spokesperson for the Yahyakhail governor said that helicopters have been requested from Kabul to take the most seriously injured for treatment in the capital.

The Taliban have stepped up attacks on both Western and Afghan targets across the country this year and while the agreements with NATO and the US still need to be ratified by the Afghan upper house, they are expected to meet little resistance.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who came to power in September, described the explosion as a "heinous attack". The majority of those injured were children, according to reports.

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