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Suicide attack in east Afghanistan kills 9

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 18 Feb 2011 09:44 GMT
Author: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Click For Restrictions. http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
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(Updates toll, adds 30 insurgents killed in Kunar)

KHOST, Afghanistan, Feb 18 (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb attack on a police checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan on Friday killed at least nine people and injured dozens, health and police officials said.

Most of the dead were civilians, among them three women, said Abdul Hakim Esaaqzai, chief of police for Khost province. Health official Amir Badshah said 30 people had been wounded and many taken to hospitals.

The attack targeted a checkpoint at the start of the mainroad to neighbouring Paktia province. Police at the checkpoint identified the attacker as a suicide bomber and shot at him, but not in time to prevent the detonation, Esaaqzai said.

At least one policeman was killed in the blast.

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Khost, which borders Pakistan, is an insurgent stronghold where government control is largely limited to urban centres.

Earlier this month insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms ambushed and killed a provincial official in the Baak district.

At the end of 2009 a suicide bomber killed seven Central Intelligence Agency officers at a base in the province, the second-most deadly attack in CIA history.

Despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops, violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001, with civilian and military casualties at record levels.

More than 2,300 foreign troops have been killed, most of them Americans, since the conflict began.

Ordinary Afghans, however, have been hit the hardest. The United Nations said 2,412 civilians were killed and 3,803 wounded in the first 10 months of last year, a 20 percent increase compared to 2009.

More than 30 insurgents were killed overnight in Kunar, another eastern province bordering Pakistan, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan said in a statement.

A team in an aircraft patrolling the area saw a group of armed insurgents and attacked them, prompting more armed men to emerge from a nearby building. The battle lasted more than four hours, the statement said.

(Reporting by Kamal Sadat, Anwarullah Mohabat and Elyas Wahdat; Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Miral Fahmy) (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email tonews.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com)

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