Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Taxi bomb kills four in Kabul

RARE ATTACK Iraq-style suicide bombings are common near the Pakistani border, where the Taliban insurgency is at its strongest, but they have been rare in the capital

AFP , KABUL

A suicide bomber detonated a taxi cab filled with explosives near Afghanistan's parliament in Kabul yesterday, killing four people, including a policeman, and wounding four others, police said.

The powerful blast was the third suicide attack in the heavily secured capital this year amid a raging insurgency by the fundamentalist Taliban militia, which was ousted by US-led forces in late 2001.

The bomber struck only a few hundred meters from the parliament building, killing three civilians and one policeman, Kabul criminal investigation police chief General Alishah Paktiawal said.

"It was a suicide bombing. Four people were killed and four others were injured. The bomber was driving a yellow and white taxi," Paktiawal said.

Paktiawal said it was unclear whether the bomber was targeting the parliament building.

"It may have detonated prematurely. An investigation is under way," he said.

Iraq-style suicide attacks are common in southern and eastern Afghanistan along the Pakistani border, where the Taliban-led insurgency is at its strongest, but they have previously been rare in Kabul.

Four civilians were killed and another 12 wounded when a suicide bomber targeted an intelligence director's vehicle in Kabul on March 28. The intelligence official survived.

About a week earlier a suicide attacker rammed an explosives-filled car into a US embassy convoy in the capital, wounding five embassy staff and guards and at least three passers-by.

The Taliban have vowed to carry out a wave of suicide blasts this year after nearly 140 last year across the country killed about 200 civilians as well as scores of Afghan and foreign security officials.

In the deadliest suicide attack in Afghanistan this year, 20 people including three foreign soldiers were killed on Feb. 27 at the main US base at Bagram, about 60km from Kabul, while US Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting.

Tens of thousands of US-led and NATO troops are in Afghanistan trying to clamp down on Islamist violence and extend the influence of US-backed President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban are also stepping up the use of kidnapping as a tactic in the insurgency.

The rebels say they have kidnapped two French aid workers and three of their Afghan colleagues who went missing in Nimroz Province this week. Officials say they believe the Taliban are holding them.

The French nationals have been out of contact with their organization, Terre d'Enfance (A World for Our Children), since Tuesday.

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