Homicide Bomber Kills 15 in Southern Afghanistan

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A homicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant in southeastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 15 people and wounding 24 — including an Afghan special forces commander and a district chief who were apparently targeted for the attack.

The restaurant, in southeast Paktika province, was destroyed, said provincial governor Mohammad Akram Akhpelwak.

Akhpelwak said the attacker, who was Pakistani, was believed to be targeting the special forces commander and the district chief, who were at the restaurant and were among the injured. NATO has said that as of mid-November 97 homicide attacks this year have killed 217 people.

Separately, one NATO soldier and an estimated 57 insurgents were killed in fighting in four areas of southern Afghanistan.

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Near the Tirin Kot district of Uruzgan province, insurgents attacked NATO-led forces, who returned fire and called in attack aircraft, killing approximately 50 insurgents, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. One NATO soldier also was killed.

In the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province on Saturday, insurgents fired on Afghan army and NATO soldiers. A retaliatory air strike killed approximately five insurgents, said the ISAF statement. Three NATO soldiers were injured.

In neighboring Zabul province, about 50 Taliban fighters attacked the Arghandab district chief's compound on Saturday and clashed with police for about an hour, leaving one Taliban dead, said district chief Fazal Bari. He said the police suffered no casualties.

On the main Kabul-Kandahar highway in Zabul province, Taliban fighters ambushed a police convoy Saturday night, said Zabul highway police commander Jainani Khan. One Taliban was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Attacks and clashes occur almost daily in the lawless southern provinces, the former Taliban stronghold where the Afghan government wields little power.

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