Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Suicide bombers hit Afghanistan

BLOODBATH Two bombings that left two Canadian soldiers and six Afghans dead came as NATO forces are readying to take control of troubled southern Afghanistan

AP , KABUL

An attacker slammed his explosives-laden car into a coalition vehicle in Kandahar, killing two Canadian soldiers and wounding eight others, officials said. Another bomber, in a simultaneous attack nearby, blew himself up and killed six Afghans.

A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for both blasts on Saturday and warned of more as NATO prepares to take control of the volatile southern Afghan region.

Separately, suspected Taliban militants killed three Afghan policeman and one civilian Saturday in the town of Gelan in the western Ghazni province, General Ali Ahmad, director of the provincial police criminal department, said yesterday.

The attacks highlighted the continuing challenges confronting the US-led coalition and its Afghan allies as they battle still defiant Taliban militants.

The southern regions, in particular, have witnessed some of the fiercest fighting since the toppling of the Taliban regime in late 2001, and the militants have stepped up suicide attacks and assaults on Afghan and coalition forces as NATO beefs up its forces in the country to 16,000 from 9,700.

In the first bombing, a suicide attacker rammed an explosive-laden car into a coalition vehicle, killing the two Canadians and wounding eight others, said Major Scott Lundy, a US-led coalition forces spokesman.

The soldiers were among some 2,200 Canadian troops deployed in the southern part of Afghanistan.

In the second, attack, which occurred shortly after the first about 30m away, another attacker approached a crowd of people and detonated his vest, killing six bystanders and wounding another 20, said Dawood Ahmadi, spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, adding that both bombers died in the attack.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, a purported Taliban spokesman, said both suicide bombers were Afghans and threatened more suicide attacks and ambushes against the US-led coalition and Afghan forces.

The attacks came on the heels strikes by Afghan and US-led coalition in the southern Helmand province over the past three days that left 19 suspected Taliban fighters dead, said Haji Ghulam Muhiddin, the provincial governor's spokesman.

He said another 15 Taliban were also wounded on Saturday, but managed to flee the area, which is one of the two southern districts briefly captured by militants earlier this week and then reclaimed by coalition and Afghan forces.

A search was under way for those who fled.

British army commanders in NATO's peacekeeping force in Afghanistan want to withdraw from isolated village outposts that have been the focus of the resurgent and fierce Taliban guerrilla attacks, the Sunday Telegraph newspaper in London reported.

The report quoted an unidentified British Ministry of Defense official as saying it "may be necessary to rebalance British forces.

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