Bomb kills 3 in Kabul ahead of conference
A suicide bomber slipped through the Afghan capital's tight security ring yesterday, killing three civilians near a busy market two days ahead of an international conference hosting representatives from about 60 nations, officials said.
An American service member died in a roadside bombing in the south and other weekend attacks left 14 Afghans dead, reports said, as the Taliban meet the arrival of thousands more US troops this year with a rising tide of violence.
The Kabul bomber was on foot near the market and his target was unclear, police official Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada said.
Hospitals reported three civilians killed, including a child, public health official Kabir Amiri said. Health ministry spokesman Ghulam Sakhi Kargar said about 45 people were wounded.
University student Tamim Ahmad said he saw a man on foot run up to a passing convoy of international troops and detonate an explosives-laden vest. However, Afghan authorities and Nato said no foreign troops were operating in the area at the time of the attack, which the international force condemned.
"The insurgents have chosen to use violence to gain media attention, once again at the expense of innocent Afghan civilians," said Col William Maxwell, a top operations official with the Nato-led force.
Security has been tightened across the capital ahead of Tuesday's Kabul Conference, which will be attended by the heads of NATO and the United Nations and top diplomats, including US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The meeting -- held nearly nine years after US-backed forces toppled the Taliban's regime of extreme Islamic law for sheltering al-Qaeda terrorist leaders -- is to discuss the country's reconstruction and eventual handing over of all security to the Afghan government.
Thousands of Afghan police were setting up checkpoints and patrolling Kabul trying to prevent any insurgent attack on the meeting or its delegates. Afghan and international officials said Saturday that authorities had arrested a Taliban bomb-maker involved in a plot to attack the conference, but they gave no details.
In May, the Taliban briefly disrupted a national peace conference in Kabul with rocket-propelled grenades that landed about 100 yards (meters) from the site of the gathering, and insurgents also waged a gunbattle with police outside the meeting. Three civilians, but no conference delegates, were wounded.