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Two foreigners, 3 Afghans killed in blast

Written by: Staff
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Mar 28 (Reuters) A roadside blast in Afghanistan today killed five people, including two foreigners, a provincial governor said.

Taliban guerrillas, who have been battling foreign troops and the Western-backed government since their ouster by US and Afghan opposition forces in late 2001, claimed responsibility for the blast.

The two foreigners, two Afghan guards and an Afghan driver were killed in the blast in the western province of Farah, said provincial governor, Izatullah Wasifi.

Wasifi said he did not know the nationality of the foreigners or their company.

A representative of the American company USPI, which provides security for road construction projects, said the dead men worked for his firm.

The representative, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media, said one of them was a South African.

Violence has intensified in Afghanistan in recent months just as the United States is hoping to trim its force of about 19,000 troops in Afghanistan by several thousand, and as NATO members are sending about 6,000 more.

In a separate incident, two suicide bombers were killed when one of their bombs went off prematurely, police said.

The pair were killed while walking along a road on the outskirts of the southern city of Kandahar, which has been hit by a wave of violence in recent months, including suicide attacks on foreign troops.

''We've established that the two were suicide attackers and were killed prematurely by their own bombs because of some technical fault,'' provincial police chief Maalik Wayezi told reporters.

He said he did not know the identity of the two or their target, but he suspected they were members of the Taliban or Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Britain, the Netherlands and Canada are sending troops to the volatile Afghan south, where the Taliban and allied militants are most active, to take over more responsibilities from US forces.

REUTERS DKS BST1657

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