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Suicide car bomb attack wounds 14 near U.S. base in Kabul

An Afghan police officer moves onlookers away from the scene shortly after an explosion Tuesday near a U.S. military base in Kabul. The Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack.

Associated Press

An Afghan police officer moves onlookers away from the scene shortly after an explosion Tuesday near a U.S. military base in Kabul. The Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the suicide car bomb attack.

KABUL — A suicide car bomber struck a barrier outside a U.S. base Tuesday, wounding six Afghans and eight American troops hours after gunmen killed four police officers in southern Afghanistan.

The car bombing was the latest attack to hit Kabul, coming a little more than a week after a team of Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers staged an assault that paralyzed the city and left 12 dead. The violence has underscored fears that militants would try to stage attacks ahead of a key international conference on Afghanistan to be held Thursday in London.

The bomber detonated a minivan packed with explosives near Camp Phoenix, an American base inside Kabul, wounding at least six civilians, said Jamil Jumbish, the head of Afghanistan's criminal investigation unit.

The Taliban claimed responsibility and said it was targeting an international military convoy, according to a text message to the Associated Press from a phone number commonly used by the militant group.

NATO forces confirmed a car bomb struck outside the main gate of Camp Phoenix, saying it was aimed at a civilian convoy entering the controlled checkpoint.

Eight American service members suffered minor injuries, according to a statement.

Earlier, four Afghan police officers were killed overnight at a checkpoint near the Information and Cultural Affairs Ministry's directorate in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. The southern area is expected to be a major focus of fighting with the influx of 37,000 additional U.S. and NATO forces.

Taliban militants frequently target Afghan security forces and officials to undermine the U.S.-backed government, but authorities said it was not yet clear who killed the policemen.

Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the officers apparently had visitors and an investigation is under way into whether the attack was political or personal.

In eastern Kunar province, a NATO airstrike killed several suspected insurgents maneuvering into fighting position in an area used to stage previous attacks on international forces, the coalition said in a statement.

Between five and 10 militants were killed, said a spokeswoman, Maj. Virginia McCabe.

In other developments Tuesday

More German troops: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country plans to increase its troop contingent in Afghanistan by up to 850 and focus more strongly on training local security forces. Germany has nearly 4,300 soldiers in northern Afghanistan. They serve under a parliamentary mandate that sets the maximum number at 4,500. Merkel did not specify what the new upper limit might be. Germany also plans to nearly double its reconstruction aid, increasing it to $605 million per year from $310 million.

Assistance provided: Afghan intelligence officials provided detailed information about the Jan. 18 attack in the capital. At a news conference, they showed a video of an Afghan man arrested last week and accused of helping to carry out the attack. In it, the man, identified as Kamaluddin, said he received his orders from the Haqqani network, a virulent militant organization whose leadership is based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area. Speaking in calm, measured tones, he said he housed the seven attackers before the strike, providing them with suicide vests and other weapons.

Move helps Taliban peace talks: The Russian government has agreed to stop blocking a U.S.-backed proposal to remove five former Taliban officials from a United Nations list of suspected terrorists, bolstering Afghan and U.N. efforts to pursue peace talks with the Taliban. No Taliban member has been delisted since the Security Council first imposed sanctions on the movement more than 10 years ago.

Suicide car bomb attack wounds 14 near U.S. base in Kabul 01/26/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 10:58pm]

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