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Afghan suicide attack kills eight

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Scene following the suicide car bomb attack

Seven civilians and a US soldier have been killed in a suicide car bomb attack against a US convoy in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan officials say.

The blast tore through a crowded market near Jalalabad, capital of the eastern Nangarhar province.

Many of the 65 injured were children, an interior ministry spokesman said.

A large number of foreign and Afghan troops are battling the Taleban in the south and east of the country and are routinely targeted by the militants.

A US military spokesman had earlier told the BBC that 19 people had died in the blast.

Meanwhile, two British marines were killed in an explosion in the southern province of Helmand on Wednesday.

The insurgency has recently been gaining ground in Afghanistan, where the central government remains weak and the foreign forces are under-resourced, correspondents say.

Busy market

The Nangarhar attacker detonated an explosives-laden vehicle close to the US convoy as it passed a livestock market.

Map

The market was crowded at the time, and local governor Khaibar Mohmand said the number of casualties could rise.

A US military vehicle, two civilian vehicles and two rickshaws were destroyed in the blast, said a photographer for the Associated Press news agency at the scene.

"One American soldier was wounded in the bombing and he died during transportation," Major John Redfield, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, told the AFP news agency.

The death brings the total number of US casualties in Afghanistan to 148 this year - the largest annual loss of life since the overthrow of the Taleban in 2001.

There are currently 33,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

US President George W Bush has announced that about 4,500 more soldiers would be sent to Afghanistan early next year.

But as the security situation deteriorates it is ordinary Afghans who continue to bear the brunt of the increasing violence across the country, says the BBC's Ian Pannell in Herat.

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