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Suicide bomber kills 3, wounds 90, in Afghanistan attack

By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times –

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber detonated a car loaded with explosives near a joint coalition-Afghan security center in a province west of Kabul Friday, killing two Afghan civilian workers and a woman while wounding at least 90 other civilians.

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the governor of Wardak Province, said the bomber struck about 8:20 a.m., when his Mazda truck exploded in the provincial capital, Maidan Shaher. He said at least 11 women and four children were among those injured in the explosion, which also killed the bomber.

Shahid said the bombing was apparently aimed at the local Operations Coordination Center (Provincial), or OCCP, a joint facility for coordinating security efforts of the Afghan government and coalition forces.

In a statement, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for the executions Wednesday of Taliban prisoners in Kabul. The militant group had warned before the executions took place that it would strike against the U.S.-backed Afghan “puppet government” if the men were put to death.

The Taliban statement claimed that two suicide bombers carried out Friday’s attack, and that “large numbers” of Afghan and coalition soldiers were killed. The group often exaggerates casualty totals; Shahid said no Afghan or coalition soldiers were harmed in the bombing.

Six Taliban members were executed Wednesday after they were convicted of terrorism for carrying out suicide bombings, assassinations and kidnappings, according to Nasrullah Stanikzai, legal advisor to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The executions followed the hangings on Tuesday of eight accused criminals convicted of murder, rape, kidnapping and treason, Stanikzai said.

The Taliban has carried out terrorist bombings and assassinations that have killed thousands of Afghan civilians in recent years. Nonetheless, the group has complained to international human rights groups that the Taliban members were illegally executed because they are prisoners of war.

After a four-year period in which only two people were executed in Afghanistan, Karzai this week signed death warrants for 16 prisoners convicted of crimes, Stanikzai said.

Gen. Amir Mohammed Jamshidi, director of prisons for Afghanistan, said he had received death warrants for only 15 prisoners. He said he could not explain the discrepancy with the number provided by the president’s office.

Jamshidi said the final prisoner will be executed as soon as arrangements are made to bring him to Kabul from another province.

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