A suicide bomber targeted a volleyball match in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least nine spectators, authorities said. It was the second such attack on a volleyball game this year, Los Angeles Times reports. Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said an additional 33 people were wounded in the attack in Paktika province.
Zerawar Khan Zahid, the police chief, said the explosives were placed in a motorbike that exploded in the middle of the match. He said children were among the injured. The Taliban, which is usually quick to claim responsibility for attacks, denied responsibility for the volleyball bombing.
Volleyball is popular in Afghanistan, and the crowds it draws can make it a target. Last November, a suicide bombing in Paktika province killed 45 spectators.
The country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, issued a statement condemning Sunday’s bombing. “Attacks in populated areas can neither be forgiven nor justified,” he said, adding that the government would hold discussions with “those harboring, funding, equipping and helping terrorists attack civilians in Afghanistan,” a phrase widely understood to refer to neighboring Pakistan.
The international coalition in Afghanistan, Resolute Support, also issued a statement of condemnation. “We are appalled by the insurgents’ lack of concern for civilian casualties, particularly women and children,” Col. Brian Tribus, the coalition’s director of public affairs, said in a statement to the media.
According to United Nations figures, 2015 is already on course to be a record year for civilian casualties in the country. Paktika was also the site of a suicide car bombing in July 2014 that left 89 dead and dozens more injured.