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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006, 18:29 GMT
Afghan bomber targets Nato troops
A suspected suicide bomber has attacked a convoy of Nato soldiers in southern Afghanistan killing a Canadian official with them and two bystanders.

Thirteen people - including three Canadian soldiers - were wounded in the attack near a busy bus station in the city of Kandahar.

A witness told the BBC he heard a loud blast and saw soldiers and civilians lying hurt near an overturned vehicle.

A man claiming to speak for the Taleban says it carried out the attack.

Nato is seeking to expand its deployment from peacekeeping duties in the capital Kabul to the volatile south of the country.

The south and east have been the scene of intense violence which last year left more than 1,400 dead, making it the deadliest year since 2001.

Much of the violence has been blamed on remnants of the hardline Taleban movement, which governed Afghanistan until the US-led invasion four years ago.

'Loud explosion'

The Canadian convoy was travelling to its base when it was attacked, police told the BBC.

Canada's Deputy Chief of Defense, Lt General Marc Dumais, said the man killed worked for Canada's foreign affairs department.

Two of the Canadian soldiers injured were in critical condition, he said.

Many of the victims were civilians waiting at a nearby bus station, police said.

Abdul Qayum Poakhla, director of Kandahar Health Department, said two civilians had been killed and nine others injured.

A witness contacted by the BBC described seeing a car drive into the convoy and blow up, creating an explosion loud enough to shake the windows of nearby buildings.

"I saw some soldiers lying on the ground. There were a lot of civilians as well who were being taken in the stretchers," Abdullah Jan said.

A wrecked vehicle was seen lying upside down on the road.

A man claiming to speak for the Taleban, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, told Reuters news agency the group had carried out the attack.

Some 19,000 troops from Nato countries are stationed in Afghanistan on peacekeeping duties.

The US plans to cut the overall number of troops it has contributed to the contingent, while retaining control of operations against fighters linked to al-Qaeda and the Taleban.


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