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Four die as ex-Afghan president survives 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 car bomb attack today that killed two bombers and two civilians, officials said.

Sibghatullah Mojadidi, who also chairs the upper house of parliament, or Senate, was in a car being driven on a busy main road when attackers detonated a car laden with explosives near his vehicle.

''The aim of the attack was Mr. Mojadidi,'' Zalmai Oryakhel, the senior police officer for the area, told Reuters.

Witnesses said two vehicles in Mojadidi's convoy were damaged but an official of President Hamid Karzai's office said Mojadidi was not injured.

''He is completely alright,'' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said two suicide attackers and two civilians were killed.

Oryakhel 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 KP1355

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