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Suicide bomber kills 16 in western Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded at least 23 others Friday in a busy city square in western Afghanistan, while near Kabul a powerful former warlord narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, officials said.

The attacks came a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai took the oath of office for a second term amid escalating violence across the country. Karzai said he has put national reconciliation with Taliban insurgents at the top of his agenda.

Lawmaker Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a former Northern Alliance leader accused by Human Rights Watch of war crimes, was in a convoy with his bodyguards when a remote-controlled bomb hidden in an irrigation canal beside the road exploded in the Paghman district north of the Afghan capital, said district chief of police Abdul Razaq. Five of Sayyaf's bodyguards were killed; Sayyaf himself was not injured.

In the suicide bombing in western Afghanistan, a bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up about 55 yards from the Farah provincial governor's compound in a crowded square, said Gov. Rohul Amin. The dead included two children and a police officer, he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either of Friday's attacks.

Sayyaf was a key U.S.-backed mujahedeen leader during the 1980s invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. His group was known for its close links to Arab fighters, including Osama bin Laden. He controlled the interior ministry when the mujahedeen ruled Afghanistan between 1992 and 1996, when their bitter internecine fighting led to the Taliban takeover in 1996.

U.S. to look at role in Afghan graft

The United States will do its part to reduce corruption in Afghanistan by examining its own contracts and projects, even as it demands the same from the Afghan government, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday. He said the U.S. can exert the most leverage when it is signing the checks. Gates spoke to reporters at the historic Canadian military fort carved into Halifax's Citadel Hill, just prior to the start of the first Halifax International Security Forum, which is exploring a broad range of issues from Afghanistan and China to Arctic and port security.

Missile strike: A suspected U.S. missile strike killed at least eight militants Friday in northwestern Pakistan, officials said, the second attack this week in an area believed to hold many insurgents who fled from an army offensive elsewhere in the Afghan border region.

U.S. to look at role in Afghan graft

The United States will do its part to reduce corruption in Afghanistan by examining its own contracts and projects, even as it demands the same from the Afghan government, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday. He said the U.S. can exert the most leverage when it is signing the checks. Gates spoke to reporters at the historic Canadian military fort carved into Halifax's Citadel Hill, just prior to the start of the first Halifax International Security Forum, which is exploring a broad range of issues from Afghanistan and China to Arctic and port security.

Missile strike: A suspected U.S. missile strike killed at least eight militants Friday in northwestern Pakistan, officials said, the second attack this week in an area believed to hold many insurgents who fled from an army offensive elsewhere in the Afghan border region.

Suicide bomber kills 16 in western Afghanistan 11/20/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 20, 2009 10:50pm]

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