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Following a suicide attack on a cultural center and library in Kabul on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan police guarded the road and kept reporters at a distance. Officials said the bomber detonated himself outside the cultural center around 9:30 am.

Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes

Following a suicide attack on a cultural center and library in Kabul on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan police guarded the road and kept reporters at a distance. Officials said the bomber detonated himself outside the cultural center around 9:30 am. Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

Following a suicide attack on a cultural center and library in Kabul on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan police guarded the road and kept reporters at a distance. Officials said the bomber detonated himself outside the cultural center around 9:30 am.

Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes

Following a suicide attack on a cultural center and library in Kabul on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan police guarded the road and kept reporters at a distance. Officials said the bomber detonated himself outside the cultural center around 9:30 am. Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

A crowd of Afghan journalists converged on the scene of a suicide attack that targeted a cultural center and library on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. 

Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes

A crowd of Afghan journalists converged on the scene of a suicide attack that targeted a cultural center and library on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

At the scene of a bombing in front of a Kabul cultural center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan journalists huddled around eyewitnesses. 

Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes

At the scene of a bombing in front of a Kabul cultural center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, Afghan journalists huddled around eyewitnesses. Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

Police kept a crowd back from the scene of a suicide bombing targeting a Kabul cultural center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. According to an Interior Ministry spokesman, one security guard was killed. Near the bombing site was one of Kabul's many shops selling wood to heat people's homes in the frigid Afghan winter.

Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes

Police kept a crowd back from the scene of a suicide bombing targeting a Kabul cultural center on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. According to an Interior Ministry spokesman, one security guard was killed. Near the bombing site was one of Kabul's many shops selling wood to heat people's homes in the frigid Afghan winter. Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes (Cid Standifer/Stars and Stripes)

KABUL — A suicide bomber attacked a library and cultural center in Kabul Thursday, killing a security guard and injuring four other people, Afghan officials said.

Sediq Sediqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, said that, according to a security guard, the attacker tried to get into the cultural center about 9 a.m. He was turned away but returned half an hour later and detonated himself outside the cultural center’s gate.

“Everybody knows this place,” Sediqi said.

By 10:30 am, Afghan journalists were trudging through mud near the scene as armed police officers waved them back from the site of the attack. A power line suddenly burst into a shower of sparks, making the gathered crowd jump and then laugh nervously.

One witness, Shujaudin Rohani, told a huddle of journalists that he had been close to the cultural center when he heard the blast.

“The Internet is free here at the Sayed Mansour Naderi’s library, so the young people used to come and use Internet here,” he said.

The country has been on edge in recent weeks, waiting to see if insurgents will step up violence before presidential elections in April.

Sediqi and eyewitnesses said it did not appear the attack was targeting a campaign event.

On Wednesday, the convoy of one presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, was attacked on its way back to Kabul from a campaign rally in Jalalabad. Abdullah escaped unharmed, and his campaign spokesman told The Wall Street Journal no one was killed.

Zubair Babakarkhail and Stars and Stripes reporter Alex Pena contributed to this report

standifer.cid@stripes.com


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