Afghan police officer saved ‘many lives’ by bear-hugging suicide bomber
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Afghan police officer saved ‘many lives’ by bear-hugging suicide bomber

Sayed Basam Pacha died when he confronted man wearing an explosive vest in large crowd in Kabul; 14 were killed

Afghan security personnel arrive to the site of a deadly suicide bombing, in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Afghan security personnel arrive to the site of a deadly suicide bombing, in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

An Afghan police officer saved “many lives” in the capital of Kabul by bear hugging a suicide bomber and reducing the blast’s damage, officials said after an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

A suicide bomber killed 14 people at a political gathering in the Afghan capital on Thursday in the deadly attack.

Sayed Basam Pacha died when he confronted the man wearing an explosive vest amid a large crowd of people.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said another 18 people were wounded, and that the casualties included security forces and civilians.

But Mujahid said the death toll would have been higher were it not for Pacha.

“He’s a hero, he saved many lives,” Mujahid told the New York Times. “All seven of those policemen are heroes but especially him.

“Just think if that suicide attacker got past the gate, what would have happened – well you cannot even imagine,” Mujahid added.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the attacker struck at the entrance to the wedding hall where the event was being held.

Parliament member Hafiz Mansoor, who attended the meeting but was not harmed, said around 700 supporters of the governor of the northern Balkh province were attending a conference to highlight his work.

Afghan security forces have struggled to combat the Taliban and other insurgents since the US and NATO shifted to a counterterrorism and support role at the end of 2014. The Taliban have seized a number of districts across the country, and both groups have carried out major attacks.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State affiliate, which is largely made up of disgruntled former Taliban fighters, are at war with the government. Both groups want to impose a harsh version of Islamic law on Afghanistan, but they are fiercely divided over leadership, tactics and ideology, and have clashed on a number of occasions.

AP contributed to this report.

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