Monday 20 November 2017

NATO soldiers among 14 dead in suicide bomb

An Afghan boy receives treatment at a hospital after a suicide bomb attack in Khost province.
An Afghan boy receives treatment at a hospital after a suicide bomb attack in Khost province.

Bryan George Afghanistan

A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle packed with explosives rammed his bike into a patrol of Afghan and international forces in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 14 people, including three Nato service members and their translator.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, which came a day after the US death toll in the war in Afghanistan reached 2,000 troops.

The bomber struck a group of Afghan police and international troops shortly after they got out of their vehicles to walk through a market in Khost city, the capital of Khost province, said provincial government spokesman Baryalai Wakman.

Six civilians and four police officers were killed in the blast, Mr Wakman said.

"I heard the explosion and came right to this area. I saw the dead bodies of policemen and of civilians right here," said policeman Hashmat Khan.

Coalition spokesman Major Adam Wojack would only confirm that three Nato service members and their translator died in a bombing in the east, without giving an exact location or the nationalities of the dead.

The international military alliance usually waits for individual nations to announce details on deaths.

Most of the troops in Khost province are American. It was not immediately clear if the translator was an Afghan citizen or a foreigner, Maj Wojack said.

Dozens of Afghan civilians were also wounded in the bombing. The city's hospital alone was treating about 30 people injured in the explosion, said Dr Amir Pacha, a physician working there.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in text messages to media that the insurgent group was behind the attack.

Patrols

Joint patrols between Nato and Afghan forces have become more limited following a tide of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies.

Last month, the US military issued new orders that require units to get approval from higher-ups before conducting operations with Afghans. Then, two weeks later, US officials said most missions were being conducted with Afghans again, though the system of approvals has remained in place.

The close contact is a key part of the US strategy for putting the Afghans in the lead as the US and other nations prepare to pull out their last combat troops by the end of 2014.

But the rising death toll for has increased calls in the US and other allied countries to get out as soon as possible.

On Sunday, a US official confirmed that a US soldier was killed in a firefight which broke out between Afghan and US troops. That soldier's death brought US troop deaths in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion to 2,000.

Irish Independent

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