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Kabul bomb kills 3 civilians, wounds NATO soldiers
Afghanistan Karzai 5137939
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008. Karzai says that the bombing of Afghan villages is only killing civilians and that the international community should be going after terror centers in Pakistan instead. - photo by Associated Press
    KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber rammed his car into a NATO convoy in Kabul on Monday, killing three civilians and wounding at least a dozen, officials said. Clashes and an airstrike in the south killed 25 militants and eight civilians held hostage by insurgents.
    Another bomb attack against a NATO convoy in the country’s northwest killed one soldier and wounded several other people, including civilians.
    The Kabul suicide bomber targeted a NATO convoy on the main road in the city’s eastern outskirts, killing three civilians and wounding 12 others, said Ayub Salangi, the provincial police chief.
    The blast also wounded some NATO soldiers, NATO’s press office in Kabul said.
    An eyewitness who was traveling ahead of the convoy when the blast happened said the troops were British.
    ‘‘I turned my head and saw a big burst of fire next to my car,’’ said Ahmed Shakeb, 22. ‘‘I saw that the convoy was British.’’
    Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the blast, and said a man named Aminullah from the eastern Khost province blew himself up. Mujahed’s claim could not be independently verified.
    In the southern province of Uruzgan, meanwhile, militants ambushed coalition and Afghan troops along a road Sunday, triggering gunbattles during which militants moved into a compound and took 11 civilians hostage, a coalition statement said.
    ‘‘Coalition troops called in close-air support to engage the militants hiding in the structure. They did not have knowledge of noncombatants in the buildings at that time,’’ the coalition statement said.
    As a result, eight civilians were killed and three were wounded, the coalition said. The wounded civilians were taken to a coalition base for treatment.
    U.S. 1st Lt. Nathan Perry, a coalition spokesman, said three civilian hostages survived the airstrike in Khas Uruzgan district, including an infant, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s.
    Juma Gul Himat, the provincial police chief, said six civilians — one child and five men — were killed and three others were wounded in the strike. He could not immediately explain why the coalition said eight civilians were killed.
    Himat blamed the Taliban fighters for using civilian homes for cover during the attack, thus putting civilians in danger. The coalition regularly accuses militants of using civilian homes they commandeer to attack foreign and Afghan troops.
    But President Hamid Karzai and other Afghan officials have pleaded with the coalition to avoid civilian casualties, which threaten to undermine support for the government. Karzai on Sunday urged the U.S.-led coalition and NATO troops to go after militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, rather than bomb Afghan villages.
    ‘‘The struggle against terrorism is not in the villages of Afghanistan,’’ Karzai said. ‘‘The only result of the use of airstrikes is the killing of civilians. This is not the way to wage the fight against terrorism.’’
    More than 3,000 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Western and Afghan officials.
    In the northwestern province of Faryab on Monday, a bomb attack killed a Latvian solider and wounded three, the country’s Defense Ministry said. Earlier, provincial police chief Khalil Andarabi had said the attack had wounded 14 people, including two foreign soldiers and 12 civilians. The differing tolls couldn’t immediately be reconciled.
    A Latvian defense spokesman said the soldier died after an explosive device was detonated while the troops were on a routine patrol in the provincial capital of Maymana. The bomb was placed on a motorbike on the side of the road and was remotely detonated, Andarabi said.
    The attacks come at a time of an increased insurgent activity throughout the country. The number of insurgent attacks in the first six months of 2008 were over 50 percent higher compared to the same period last year, according to an Afghan security group that advises foreign aid agencies.
    Militants regularly target foreign and Afghan troops with suicide and roadside bombings, but the majority of the victims in those attacks are civilians.
    In other reported violence, militants on Monday ambushed a convoy of vehicles belonging to a demining company in the southern Zabul province, killing two Afghan guards and wounding seven others, said Jalani Khan, a police official. Afghanistan is one of the world’s most heavily mined countries after suffering through decades of war. Demining teams have been working around the country to clear minefields since the Taliban’s fall in 2001.
    Associated Press reporter Noor Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

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