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Page last updated at 15:13 GMT, Saturday, 17 January 2009

Five die in Kabul suicide attack

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The scene outside the German embassy in Kabul

A suicide car bomber has struck in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing four civilians and an American soldier.

Nearly 20 others were injured in the blast near a US base and the German embassy. A number of German nationals are said to be among the wounded.

A witness told the BBC the blast had set fire to several cars and a tanker.

In a later attack in eastern Nangarhar province a civilian died and six people were hurt, including three policemen. The Taleban claimed both attacks.

A child was among the dead in Saturday's first bombing on a small road between an American base, Camp Eggers, and the German embassy in the central Kabul district of Wazir Akbar Khan.

There was confusion earlier over casualty figures as the US military said two soldiers had been killed.

It then said five US soldiers and an American civilian had been injured and that one of the wounded personnel died later.

'Cowardly'

A spokesman for the German foreign ministry in Berlin said several embassy workers had been hurt.

KABUL ATTACKS
A US soldier is taken away after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday 17 January 2009
July 2008: More than 50 people die in Indian embassy bombing
Oct 2008: Three die in a shooting near DHL courier firm office
Nov 2008: Suicide attack near US embassy kills four Afghans

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the suicide attack - the first to hit Kabul this year - was a "cowardly act" that would not deter Berlin.

Germany has 3,200 troops in Afghanistan, mainly in the country's north.

The heavily-guarded US base is the headquarters for soldiers training Afghan police and army forces.

Reuters news agency reported that Afghan relatives of the dead had gathered screaming and crying outside a nearby hospital.

Despite the heavy security in the district, which houses many embassies and offices of international organisations, the district has been attacked before.

In November four Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber outside the US embassy.

In Saturday's second attack, a suicide bomber killed a civilian while attempting to ram his vehicle into a convoy of Nato troops and Afghan police in Chaparhar district, Nangarhar province.

A Taleban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, told AP news agency a suicide bomber had carried out the Kabul attack in a Toyota Corolla. The militant group later claimed the second blast too.

The militants' influence has spread from their traditional heartlands in the south and east to areas closer to the capital.

But the BBC's Martin Patience says that with increased police checkpoints throughout the city, there were fewer attacks inside Kabul in 2008 than in the previous year.

US President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to make Afghanistan a foreign policy priority after he comes to office on Tuesday and is expected to approve the doubling of US troops in the country from the 30,000 at present.



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