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SLUG: 2-304098 Afghanistan-bomb (L)









INTRO: An apparent terrorist bomb explosion near Kabul has destroyed a bus carrying international peacekeepers, and Afghan officials say at least four German soldiers were killed and more than two dozen people were injured. Ayaz Gul reports from neighboring Pakistan that local officials expect the death toll to rise.

TEXT: Afghan security officials say the blast was caused by a suspected suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives.

The bombing took place on a busy road in the eastern part of

Afghanistan's capital and completely destroyed the bus, which was filled mostly with German peacekeepers. Witnesses say the force of the explosion threw the bus several meters off the road.

Local officials said four German soldiers were killed almost

immediately, three at the scene and a fourth en route to the hospital. At least ten passengers and a number of passers-by are said to have suffered serious injuries, and not all are expected to survive.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for what is being described as the deadliest attack against the multinational military force since it began patrolling Kabul 18 months ago.

More than four-thousand soldiers of the International Security Assistance Force are responsible for providing security in the Afghan capital. They are currently under joint German-Dutch command.

There has been an increase in attacks against international and local troops in recent months. Afghan authorities have usually blamed remnants of the deposed Taleban government and the al-Qaida terrorist network for the violence.

The anti-government forces are opposed to a foreign military presence on Afghan soil. Nearly 12-thousand U-S special forces are hunting for these militants in an attempt to rid Afghanistan of terrorism.

In a gunfight this week in the southern parts of the country, Afghan officials say their own forces killed up to 40 Taleban fighters. The region has been the scene of much of the anti-government activity.

The transitional government of President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly appealed for the multinational force to extend its mission beyond Kabul, to help establish security across Afghanistan. (SIGNED)


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