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Suicide car bombing at Afghanistan market kills at least 89

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July 15, 2014: Afghan doctors assist civilians who were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed vehicle near a crowded market and a mosque, in the main hospital in Sharan, capital of Paktika province, Afghanistan. (AP)

An Afghan government official says that at least 89 people were killed and more than 40 were wounded Tuesday when a suicide bomber blew up a car packed with explosives near a busy market and a mosque in the eastern part of the country.

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi told the Associated Press that the military is providing helicopters and ambulances to transport the victims to the provincial capital, Sharan. So far 42 people wounded in the explosion have been moved to hospitals there, Azimi said.

The explosion destroyed more than 20 shops and dozens of vehicles, he added.

Mohammad Reza Kharoti, an administration chief, said all the casualties were civilians. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

"It was a very brutal suicide attack against poor civilians," he said. "There was no military base nearby."

The bombing was the first major attack since a weekend deal between the two Afghan presidential contenders brokered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry averted a dangerous rift in the country's troubled democracy.

One of the two, former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, told The Associated Press on Monday that he would meet his rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, on Tuesday to begin working out the framework for the next government, with participation from both camps and all communities in the country.

But violence has continued unabated in Afghanistan.

The Paktika bombing took place hours after a roadside bomb ripped through a minivan carrying employees of the presidential palace in eastern Kabul, killing two passengers.

The explosion struck as the vehicle was taking the palace staffers, said Gul Agha Hashimi, the chief of criminal investigations with the Kabul police. There were seven government employees on board, all from the palace's media office.

The explosion also wounded five other people inside the minivan, including the driver, said Hashimi, speaking to reporters at the site of the blast. "One passenger survived unharmed," he added.

Kabul police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai said it was a remotely detonated device planted along the midsection of a main road.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for that attack in a statement sent to reporters.

Roadside bombings are a major threat to both Afghan security forces and civilians across the country. Such attacks have escalated as the Taliban intensify their campaign ahead of the U.S.-led foreign forces' withdrawal by the end of 2014.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.