Sun, Jan 09, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Afghan bathhouse blast claims 17 lives

NY Times News Service, KABUL

A suicide bomber killed a senior border police commander, two other police officers and 14 civilians in an attack on Friday in a crowded bathhouse in the southern city of Spinbaldak, Afghan officials said.

“A suicide bomber entered a local bathhouse and exploded his vest around 11:30am this morning,” Spinbaldak District Governor Abdul Ghani said. “The target was a border police commander, Hajji Ramzan Aka. He was killed in the attack.”

Afghan officials said that Aka was the commander of the border police’s quick-reaction force. News reports put the number of wounded at about 20.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, said the group claimed responsibility for the attack, but asserted that all the casualties were Afghan police officers. The Taliban routinely deny killing civilians.

The Taliban have assassinated dozens of Afghan government and police officials in Kandahar Province and neighboring Helmand Province in the past two years, seeking to undermine government control and terrorize residents.

The bathhouse was in a crowded bazaar in the border town in Kandahar, the cradle of the Taliban insurgency.

Also on Friday, three coalition service members were reported killed by roadside bombs in two attacks. One died in southern Afghanistan, the international military force said. The other two soldiers were killed in the eastern part of the country, a region that has had increasing levels of violence in the past year.

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