Volleyball is popular in Afghanistan and Pakistan but frowned on by the Taliban Jim Varhegyi, USAF

The suicide bomber, who killed over 50 people at an Afghan volleyball game on 23 November, was targeting local police commander Bawar Khan.

According to a range of players and witnesses that were wounded in the blast in Patika, is one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan and has long been used as a haven for Islamist groups, the suicide bomber set his sights on Khan and the rest of the people killed or injured in the attack was collateral damage.

"There was no security at the tournament from the beginning," said wounded local resident Mohammad Khan, 19, to Reuters in Patika.

"And bombers usually do not target local civilians unless there are some high-profile government or police officials among them."

A volleyball player also told Reuters, while lying in a Kabul hospital, that "around 500 people had gathered there to watch the match. A local police commander and his men also came an hour later."

"Soon after they arrived the suicide bomber came and detonated his explosives attached to his body. He (the police commander) was the target," he added.

Volleyball is a popular sport in both Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan, partly due to the fact few items of equipment are required to play. However the Taliban discourages participation in volleyball and most other sports, and banned the game when it ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001.

Paktika borders on tribal regions such as North Waziristan and Bannu where terrorist cells are said to reside.