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Suicide blast at Afghan NATO base, three dead

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, Apr 8 (Reuters) A suicide attacker detonated a car filled with explosives outside a base of NATO-led peacekeeping troops in western Afghanistan today, the fourth attack on foreign troops in three days.

An Afghan guard outside the base and an Afghan policeman were killed, as well as the bomber, said a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Seven Afghans were wounded as well as an Italian civilian working at the base in the western city of Herat, said the spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Riccardo Cristoni.

''The blast took place outside one of the entrances to the base, at a distance of about 10 metres (yards),'' said Cristoni.

The Italian was slightly wounded in an arm, he said.

Taliban insurgents fighting to expel foreign troops and overthrow the Western-backed government have unleashed a wave of violence in recent weeks, including attacks on military bases, ambushes and roadside and suicide bombings.

A Taliban commander, Mullah Dadullah, said by telephone from an undisclosed location the bomber was a Taliban fighter.

Troops from various countries are based in Herat, including Italy, Germany, Spain, the United States, Lithuania, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

The west has been one of the most peaceful parts of the country, with Taliban attacks largely confined to the south and east, but in recent months the militants have appeared to be extending their operations into the west and north.

Three Italian peacekeepers were hurt in a suicide bomb attack in the city in December.

Today's blast was the fourth attack, and second suicide attack, against foreign forces since Thursday.

A suicide car-bomber killed himself and wounded three Americans in Lashkar Ghar, capital of the southern province of Helmand, yesterday.

On Thursday, a mortar bomb exploded in a market outside the main US military base in Afghanistan, north of Kabul, killing an Afghan civilian and wounding three.

Three civilians were wounded the same day when a bomb attached to a bicycle exploded near NATO peacekeepers in Kunduz province in the north.

Thousands of NATO reinforcements are due in Afghanistan soon as the force prepares to take over responsibilities in the south from the United States, which hopes to trim its Afghan force by several thousand.

In a separate incident, the US military said a senior Taliban commander as killed in fighting in Helmand on Friday.

The man, who the US military did not identify, was responsible for dozens of deadly bomb attacks since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, it said.

REUTERS PR SP1344

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