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Bomb in Kabul wounds six, 12 Taliban killed in clash

Written by: Staff
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KABUL, July 4 (Reuters) A bomb in the Afghan capital Kabul today wounded more than six people and 12 Taliban insurgents were killed in a clash in the south where NATO forces are set to take control.

Afghanistan is going through its worst phase of violence since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

In another incident, five Afghan labourers working at a US military base in the east were stopped on their way home and executed by the road, police said.

Most of the violence has been in the south and east.

Attacks in Kabul are rare.

Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai blamed ''enemies of the Afghan people'' for the lunchtime blast in the crowded city centre. The bomb was in a vendor's push cart.

''A cart packed with explosives blew up on a corner by the Justice Ministry,'' he said. The blast shattered windows of the ministry and other buildings, and damaged cars.

Six people were admitted to hospital, five in serious condition, said Ministry of Health official Abdullah Fahim. Several people had superficial wounds, he said.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Earlier today, a roadside bomb hit a bus carrying police in Kabul, slightly wounding one, the Interior Ministry said.

A resurgent Taliban have claimed a wave of roadside and suicide bomb attacks, as well as ambushes, raids and assassinations, that the government says is aimed at unnerving NATO as it takes over from a US-led force in the south.

The expansion, due at the end of the month, looks set to be the alliance's toughest ever ground mission.

The surge in violence has been a surprise to the government and its Western backers. About 1,200 people, most of them militants, have been killed in Afghanistan since January. About 60 foreign troops have been killed.

The United Sates had been hoping to trim its force this year as NATO moved in but now has about 23,000 troops in the country, the most since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

NATO, which already has troops in the generally peaceful north, west and centre of Afghanistan, will soon have 16,000 troops in the country for what was initially billed as a peacekeeping mission.

WORKERS KILLED Police battled insurgents in the troubled Girish district of Helmand province in the south, killing 12 of them in a sweep that began yesterday, an Interior Ministry official said.

In Kunar province in the east, five labourers from a US base were stopped as they drove home yesterday and gunned down.

One man survived.

Kunar, on the Pakistani border, is one of the most violent parts of the country where US forces have mounted a series of offensives.

It was the second major attack on people working for foreign forces in less than three weeks. A bomb hit a minibus taking workers to a base in the southern city of Kandahar on June 15, killing eight of them.

Afghan officials say the Taliban can launch such attacks because of the funding and weapons they get in Pakistan. The militants are also profiting from the huge opium trade, Afghan and US officials say.

REUTERS SHB RK2115

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