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Ex-Afghan president survives suicide attack

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, Mar 12 (Reuters) A former Afghan president who heads a government commission seeking to encourage Taliban defections survived a suicide bomb attack today in Kabul, a senior police official said.

At least two people, including a suicide car bomber, were killed in the blast aimed at Sibghatullah Mojadidi, who also chairs the upper house of parliament, or Senate.

Mojadidi was in a car being driven on a busy main road from his house towards the city centre when the attack occurred, police said.

''The aim of the attack was Mr. Mojadidi,'' Zalmai Oryakhel, the senior police officer for the area, told Reuters. ''He survived, but one pedestrian and the suicide attacker were killed and four other civilians were wounded.

He said police suspected an al Qaeda militant allied to the Taliban rebels carried out the attack.

Afghanistan has been rocked by a series of suicide attacks aimed at foreign troops and government officials in recent months.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the attacks.

The Taliban, which have been waging an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai's government since their overthrow by US-led forces in late 2001, have taken responsibility for most of the attacks.

Mojadidi served as president of the first Mujahideen (holy warrior) government that replaced a Soviet-backed regime in 1992.

For the past two years, he has headed a commission trying to persuade militants to give up their insurgency under a national reconciliation programme.

According to the government, hundreds of rank and file Taliban fighters have joined the process, but the insurgency has intensified.

More than 1,500 people have died in Taliban-linked violence since the start of last year, the bloodiest period since the Taliban were forced from power.

REUTERS DKS PM1238

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