Suicide blast kills 20 Afghans at market

By Kim Gamel
Associated Press / January 15, 2010

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KABUL - A suicide bomber killed 20 people, including three children, yesterday in a market in central Afghanistan in the deadliest attack against Afghan civilians in more than three months.

Suicide bombings and other attacks have become the number one killer of Afghan civilians in the intensifying war between US-led forces and the Taliban. A United Nations report released this week said 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in war-related violence last year, the highest toll of the eight-year-old war - with nearly 70 percent of the deaths blamed on the Taliban and their allies.

In the attack yesterday, a man detonated his explosives in front of a currency exchange shop in an arcade in Dihrawud, Uruzgan Province, a mostly ethnic Pashtun area about 250 miles southwest of the Afghan capital of Kabul. Thirteen people were wounded.

District Police Chief Omar Khan said the attacker may have been headed for a regular security meeting of NATO officials and dozens of tribal elders.

It was the deadliest attack against civilians since Sept. 29, when a bomb killed 30 bus passengers near Kandahar.

Also yesterday, an American service member was killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan, NATO said. The death was the fifth suffered by US forces in two days.

Another suicide bomber targeted a police patrol yesterday in the southern town of Musa Qala, killing an Afghan policeman and wounding four civilians.