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Man held in Afghan bomb probe

Three Americans killed in blast

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Investigators probing a deadly car bombing in the Afghan capital questioned a man detained at the Kabul airport with traces of explosives on his hands, officials said yesterday, while US authorities warned all Americans in the capital to be inconspicuous.

Taliban rebels claimed responsibility for Sunday's blast at a US security firm, but officials said they are not ruling out any suspects, including Al Qaeda. Hospital officials said 10 people were killed, including three Americans. The company confirmed that three of its American employees had been killed.

NATO troops grew suspicious of a man on the grounds of Kabul airport on Sunday, Lieutenant Commander Ken Mackillop said. After finding explosives on his hands, NATO turned the man over to Afghan authorities yesterday. The man was not identified.

"There is a suspicion against him, but for now there is no link or proof that he was involved in yesterday's attack," Interior Ministry spokesman Latfullah Mashal said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast at the office of Dyncorp Inc., which provides bodyguards for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and works for the American government in Iraq.

Security officials have issued repeated warnings in recent weeks that militants could step up attacks to disrupt the country's landmark presidential election.

Yesterday, the US Embassy e-mailed Americans in Kabul to tell them to limit their movements, take strict security measures, and avoid "potential target areas" such as government offices, military bases and upscale restaurants frequented primarily by foreigners.

UN staff were also urged to stay off the streets.

Mullah Hakim Latifi, a man who claims to speak for the Taliban, said the Islamic radical group carried out the attack with a time bomb in a car.

He warned that more attacks would follow.

"We appeal to civilians to stay away from the elections and places where the Americans and coalition are living and working," Latifi told the Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location. "They are our priority targets."

"On whether we are seriously considering Al Qaeda or anybody else, all possibilities are open," Mackillop said.

The company confirmed yesterday that at least three of its employees were killed, all Americans.

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