Suicide bomber kills 17 in Afghanistan

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Kandahar (Afghanistan), Jan 7 (AP) A suicide bomberstruck a bath house in a southern Afghan city as men gatheredto wash up before Friday''s prayers, killing 17 people,including a border police officer who was the apparent target,the spokesman for the Kandahar governor said today.

NATO also announced today that one of its servicemembers was killed in a roadside bombing in southernAfghanistan.

The midday attack killed 16 civilians and a policeinspector in Spin Boldak, a city near the Pakistani borderabout 70 miles east of the provincial capital of Kandahar,said the governor''s spokesman, Zalmay Ayubi. The apparenttarget was the inspector, who works for the border patrol, hesaid.

Twenty-three other people were wounded.

Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa condemned the attack,saying Such actions by insurgents show that they are neitherthe friends of this land, nor the Afghan people.''''

The blast reflected the continuing instability inAfghanistan, particularly in the southern part of the country.

That area has traditionally been the Taliban''s stronghold andthe scene of some of the fiercest fighting of a war that isapproaching the start of its 10th year.

NATO has bolstered its forces in the south, but theinsurgents have been able to stand their ground there whileexpanding their operations to other parts of Afghanistan onceconsidered relatively safe.

Kandahar has witnessed several major attacks. Asuicide attack in downtown Kandahar on December 27 killedthree people and wounded 26. The bomber had struck in thecity''s crowded center, near a police compound and a branch ofKabul Bank. (AP)

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