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Dozens dead, wounded in Kandahar bombing

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  • At least 80 dead after suicide bombing in western Kandahar, officials say
  • Dozens more are wounded from blast at dog-fighting competition
  • AP: Official says target of the blast was militia leader, believed killed
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A suicide bomb exploded in a crowd of people gathering to watch dog fighting, killing at least 80 people and wounding dozens more in the western section of Kandahar, Afghanistan Sunday morning, according to Afghan officials

Police investigate the aftermath of the suicide attack in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kandahar provincial Governor Assadullah Khalid put the death toll at 80, while another government official said the number wounded was around 50.

The target of the attack, which happened on open ground on the outskirts of the city, is alleged to have been militia leader Abdul Hakim Jan, according to provincial council president Wali Karzai in comments reported by The Associated Press.

Wire reports say Hakim Jan, an ex-police chief of the province who in the past opposed the Taliban, died in the blast.

There were reports of shots fired by bodyguards after the attack, the agency added, raising the possibility that some of the casualties may have been caused in the crossfire.

Dog fighting competitions are considered common around Afghanistan, with events that can attract hundreds of spectators who cram into a tight circle around the spectacle.

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The sport, banned under the Taliban, is one of few forms of public entertainment in Afghanistan. The matches also invite discreet gambling on the dogs.

Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and a former stronghold of the Taliban, has been scene of some of NATO's heaviest fighting since 2001. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Journalist Farhad Peikar in Kabul contributed to this report

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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