"--IANS/EFE"
Kabul, July 15 (IANS/EFE) At least 89 civilians, including several children and women, were killed and 42 others wounded Tuesday in a suicide car bomb attack on a busy marketplace in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktika, an official said.

The attack took place at noon in the Orgun district marketplace, Zahir Azimi, defence ministry spokesman, told Efe news agency.

I can confirm that 89 people, including children and women, died and 42 others were injured, said Azimi.

The market was full of people who were shopping for Ramadan and were preparing for the Eid al Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, the most important celebration for Muslims, provincial Governor Mohamed Reza Kharoti told Efe.

Tuesday's attack was one of the deadliest in Afghanistan in recent years.

Sixty-two people died in two attacks against the Shia minority in 2011 and 41 others perished in another suicide attack during the Feast of the Sacrifice in 2012.

Suicide attacks, along with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), are the methods most used by the Taliban to attack Afghan and international forces, causing a large number of civilian deaths.

In a separate attack Tuesday, two staff members of the Presidential Palace died and seven others were injured while travelling on the outskirts of Kabul, when the car they were in hit a bomb which exploded.

In the first six months of this year, violence in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of 1,564 civilians, a 17 percent increase over the first half of 2013, while 3,289 have been injured, 28 percent more than the previous year.

Violence has been on the rise in this South Asian country since 2013, when Afghan forces took control of security due to the scheduled withdrawal of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

ISAF will conclude its mission in Afghanistan by the end of this year, but Washington has announced that it will maintain around 9,800 troops in the country until its complete exit at the end of 2016.

--IANS/EFE

ab/dg


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