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Suicide attacks on Canadians, 2 Afghans dead

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, May 2 (Reuters) A suicide car-bomber attacked Canadian troops travelling in a vehicle near the Afghan capital Kabul today, killing himself and a passer-by, police and a Canadian military spokesman said.

Violence has intensified in Afghanistan in recent months with scores of people killed in clashes and roadside and suicide blasts as NATO members build up troop numbers.

Police said a Canadian soldier had been wounded but a spokesman said no Canadians were hurt.

''We had three soldiers in the vehicle but none was hurt,'' said the Canadian spokesman, Major Marc Theriault.

The blast on a main road to the northeast of Kabul, leading to the main US military base at Bagram, killed a man riding a horse beside the road, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Taliban insurgents, fighting to oust foreign troops and overthrow the Western-backed government, have claimed a string of similar attacks.

NATO troops sealed off the site but a Reuters reporter who got to the scene saw a human head on the road and another body nearby.

The bomber's car was completely destroyed and another vehicle, that was apparently being driven by the Canadians, was slightly damaged and had its windows smashed, the reporter said.

Afghan security officials collected evidence from a crater in the road left by the blast.

Military officials say insurgents have stepped up attacks on foreign forces in the hope of weakening support for their mission in their home countries.

Four Canadian soldiers were killed in a roadside blast in the southern province of Kandahar on April 22.

Canada has about 2,200 troops in Kandahar.

Britain and the Netherlands are also sending troops to the volatile south as part of a planned expansion of the NATO-led peacekeeping force.

The United States, which leads a separate force battling insurgents and hunting for their leaders, hopes to cut the number of its troops in Afghanistan from more than 19,000 to about 16,500.

The NATO force now operates in Kabul and the relatively peaceful north and west. In July it is due to take over in the south and later this year or early next year in the east.

US and Afghan opposition forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001 after the Islamists refused to hand over Osama bin Laden, architect of the September. 11 attacks on the United States.

Taliban and allied militants have been waging an insurgency against foreign troops and government forces since then.

REUTERS OM PM1402

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