8 soldiers die Saturday in latest Taliban suicide attacks

McClatchy NewspapersApril 16, 2011 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Eight soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition were killed Saturday in Taliban bombings, including a suicide attack at a military base in the eastern province of Laghman, the single deadliest attack on the alliance in months.

The Taliban have hit at least four police or army installations with suicide attacks in the past week.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force, as the coalition is known formally, on Saturday did not give the nationalities of the dead soldiers or identify the location of the attack, but an Afghan defense ministry spokesman said four of the dead were Afghans. He said eight people were wounded, four of them Afghans serving as interpreters.

An update Sunday by the coalition said another two soldiers were killed in a bombing Saturday in southern Afghanistan. Officials gave no details. The Associated Press put the additional coalition dead at three. Four Afghan soldiers were killed in the attack at the military base, AP said.

On Saturday, Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimy declined to give details of the casualties.

Officials in Laghman province, where the attack took place, gave a higher death toll for Afghans, with Faizanullah Patan, the governor's spokesman, saying seven had died. He gave no figure for foreign soldiers.

The suicide attacks were the latest in a Taliban campaign aimed at police, soldiers and government supporters throughout the country.

On Friday, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform detonated his explosives inside the police headquarters in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, killing the provincial police chief and wounding three others. Bombers in the last week also struck a police training camp in Paktia province, killing three, a meeting of tribal leaders in Kunar province, killing 10, and a police headquarters south of Kabul, where no dead were reported but the building was devastated.

Saturday's attack in Laghman was notable because the province is considered relatively peaceful. Its capital, Mehterlam, is one of five cities where Afghan forces are scheduled to assume security functions from the coalition this summer.

The Taliban claimed the attack in a posting on their website and said the bomber had joined the Afghan army a month ago "for this purpose." The Taliban said the target of the bomber, who the statement called "the hero," had been a meeting of senior military officials that included foreigners "on a base of the puppet army," the Taliban term for the Afghan army.

The statement claimed that 14 Afghan soldiers and 12 foreign soldiers had died. The Taliban frequently exaggerates the outcome of its attack.

Azimy confirmed, however, that the bomber was wearing an Afghan army uniform when he detonated his explosives.

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