Representational image: A suicide attack in Kabul on 16 November killed three civilians.Reuters

A suicide bomber struck at a volleyball match in Afghanistan on Sunday, detonating himself in the middle of the crowd and killing at least 45 people.

50 more people were gravely injured in the attack that took place in a village in the country's Paktika province, adding to one of the bloodiest years for Afghanistan, which has seen 5,000 civilian deaths and injuries in the first six months itself.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, the targeting of spectators at a volleyball match coincides with the previous Taliban ban on public sports for being 'un-Islamic', a ban it had imposed during its rule between 1996 and 2001. Paktika, which lies close to the Pakistan border is affected by the Afghan Taliban insurgency. 

The bomber was wearing an explosive belt and blew himself up in the middle of the dense crowd of spectators, Mokhles Afghan, spokesperson for the governor of Paktika, was quoted saying.

"There were no checkpoints, and that is the reason the suicide attacker could enter this area," he said," he told The Guardian.

While most casualties were of civilians, especially of youths as it was a youth volleyball tournament, several policemen were also killed in the attack, that has occurred at a time when American troops are withdrawing from the country.

However, about 12,000 international troops will remain in Afghanistan next year to train and support Afghanistan's security forces and US forces will also get extra powers sanctioned by the Obama administration to target Taliban fighters.

The attack came on a day when the Afghanistan Parliament ratified agreements to allow foreign troops to stay in the country even after 2014.

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