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Suicide bomber kills Briton; more feared

A suicide car bomber slammed his taxi into a British peacekeepers' vehicle in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, blowing himself up and killing one soldier and wounding four others, the commander of the peacekeeping force said. One Afghan civilian, a 14-year-old boy, was killed and three others were wounded in the blast, local police and hospital officials said.

The commander, Lt. Gen. Goetz F.E. Gliemeroth of Germany, said the taxi overtook two British Land Rovers and exploded as it crashed into the lead vehicle. Initial investigations indicated that the taxi was carrying 200 pounds of explosives, he said.

Col. Mike Griffiths, commander of the 300-member British contingent in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, declined to identify any of the British soldiers or their unit.

The attack was the second suicide attack on the peacekeepers in two days. A Canadian soldier was killed and three were wounded Tuesday when a man blew himself up beside their jeep in western Kabul. That attack also killed an Afghan civilian and wounded eight bystanders. Gliemeroth said the attacks appeared similar.

"These attacks will strengthen our resolve to fight terrorism and free our peace-loving country from its effect," President Hamid Karzai said.

The bomb exploded as a ceremony was under way in Kabul to honor the Canadian soldier killed by a bomber Tuesday. A Taliban spokesman claimed the Islamic militant group was behind both attacks, declaring the start of a nationwide campaign of suicide bombings.

Mullah Hakim Latifi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, said one of its members carried out the attack, at first intended for the base of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

"His target was the ISAF base. But he saw British troops so he exploded the car there," he told the Associated Press by telephone. "We are compelled to attack the foreigners to defend our country, religion and honor."

His claim couldn't be independently verified.

Latifi also claimed Taliban responsibility for Tuesday's attack on the Canadian patrol.

Kabul was full of rumors that more attacks were being planned ahead of a religious holiday beginning this weekend. An Afghan intelligence official said there was information that five potential suicide bombers had arrived in the capital recently.

The police in the southern city of Kandahar foiled a bomb attack when they searched an Afghan man and found a tank shell, primed to explode, in a box strapped to the back of his bicycle, said the city's deputy police chief, Gen. Mohammed Salim Ehsas.

The British soldiers who came under attack were leaving town at midmorning along the main eastern highway where peacekeepers and U.N. workers are based.

A yellow Kabul taxi driving at a high speed crashed into the lead British vehicle, said a witness, Mir Aqa, 24, a police officer guarding a U.N. office nearby.

Col. Mirza Mohammed, the head of the criminal police in District 9 of Kabul, who was also nearby, found five injured soldiers thrown from their vehicle. One was badly burned and died later.

Six American soldiers of the coalition force involved in counterterrorism have also been wounded in two incidents since Monday, a U.S. military spokesman said. Three were wounded in a roadside explosion in the east Monday, and three others were wounded in a clash with suspected Taliban fighters in the southeast Tuesday.

_ Information from the New York Times and Associated Press was used in this report.

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