Homicide Blast in Southern Afghanistan Kills 17 People, Wounds 30

A homicide bomber targeted a NATO patrol in a crowded marketplace in southern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing 17 civilians, officials said.

At least 30 people were among the wounded, including seven Western soldiers, officials said.

The attack — one of the deadliest of the year — targeted troops patrolling on foot through a bazaar, said Gen. Qassim Khan, the provincial police chief who provided the casualty figures.

He said school children were among the wounded.

Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, said seven NATO troops were also wounded. Most soldiers in Uruzgan province are Dutch, though NATO couldn't immediately confirm their nationalities.

Thomas, who said the bomber showed "no concern for the potential deaths and injuries of civilians," said some Afghans were treated at ISAF medical facilities.

"It's pretty shocking that with the recent calls by some insurgent leaders to protect civilians in this conflict that they would undertake a massacre of civilians in a market place," Thomas said.

The attack came at the southern tip of Uruzgan province, near the border with Helmand and Kandahar — among the most violent areas in Afghanistan and the heart of the poppy-growing region.

The bombing appeared to be the third-deadliest of the year. On June 17, a homicide bomber exploded himself on a bus carrying police instructors in Kabul, killing 35 people. In February, a bomber carrying explosives detonated them outside the main U.S. base at Bagram Air Field, killing 23 people, during a visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.