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Taliban Bomber Kills 4, Wounds 100+    01/15 06:26

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least four 
people and wounded scores when he detonated an explosive-laden vehicle late in 
the evening in the Afghan capital, officials said Tuesday.

   It was the latest in a relentless wave of near daily attacks by the Taliban, 
who now hold sway over about half of the country and regularly target Afghan 
forces. The violence comes despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to 
find a negotiated end to the country's 17-year war.

   Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said as many as 113 wounded were 
taken to different hospitals in Kabul after the Monday evening explosion near 
the Green Village compound, home to several international organizations and 
guesthouses.

   Germany's Foreign Ministry condemned the bombing, in which it said a German 
police officer was also lightly wounded.

   The area has been the frequent target of attacks in the past. Many 
foreigners live in the compound, which is heavily guarded by Afghan forces and 
also private security guards. Roads to the area remained blocked by security 
forces through the night and into Tuesday morning.

   Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the attack in a statement to 
the media, saying it involved five attackers, including the suicide bomber. The 
four other attackers engaged Afghan forces in a clash, he said, without 
elaborating on what happened to them.

   One of the victims, 35-year-old pharmacists Emal Fayzi, said he was wounded 
by shrapnel in the chest as he was walking home in the evening. The blast was 
so strong, he couldn't see anything for a while. Later, he realized he was 
inside an ambulance.

   "No one is safe in this country, innocent and poor people are the victims of 
these attacks," Fayzi said from his hospital bed.

   Another victim, 13-year-old boy Esmatullah, said his two sisters were 
wounded inside their home, which had all its windows shattered in the blast.

   Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said three military personnel and a 
civilian were killed while 12 women and 23 children were among the wounded.

   Another resident in the area, Sardar Mohammad, 55, said this was the most 
powerful explosion of all that he had witnessed. Three of his children were 
wounded, he said, adding that the government should move all military targets 
out of residential areas to protect civilian lives.

   Patrick Andrew, a NATO official in Afghanistan, said the alliance condemns 
the "despicable attack on innocent people" near Kabul's Green Village.

   "The Taliban must stop continuing to use violence against their own people 
and come to the negotiating table," he added.

   The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with Kabul despite pressure by 
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and even Pakistan, where Washington says 
the Taliban leadership is headquartered.

   In a separate attack Tuesday morning in Kabul, a civilian was killed when a 
sticky bomb blew up his vehicle, Danish said.

   There was no immediate claim of responsibility for that attack.


(KA)

 
 
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