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Afghan President Condemns Suicide Bombing, Offers Taleban Posts For Peace

29 September 2007

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has condemned a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed 30 people and wounded many others. Mr. Karzai also offered to personally meet with Taleban and insurgent leaders and to give militants government posts in return for peace. Daniel Schearf reports for VOA from Islamabad.

Mr. Karzai told journalists Saturday the bombing early that morning was a terrible tragedy, an act of extreme cowardice, and against Islam.

"A man that calls himself Muslim would not blow up innocent people in the middle of Ramadan, an enemy of all of us, an enemy of Afghanistan, an enemy of humanity, something that we condemn in strongest possible terms," he said.

The suicide attack occurred in the Afghan capital on a crowded Afghan National Army bus. The bomber, dressed in an Afghan army uniform, detonated explosives after trying to board the bus.

Mr. Karzai said the explosion killed 28 soldiers and two civilians. At least 21 people were wounded in the blast as it ripped the bus to pieces and damaged nearby shops.

A purported Taleban spokesman has said the group was responsible for the attack.

Despite the deadly bombing, Mr. Karzai said he was still willing to meet personally with Taleban leader Mullah Omar and another top insurgent, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, for peace talks.

He said he would even offer positions in the government to insurgent leaders willing to put down their weapons and join the political establishment.

Mr. Karzai says if he had their addresses, there would be no need for them to contact him. He would go to them directly and ask why they are destroying the country.

However, Mr. Karzai rejected insurgents' demands that foreign troops first leave the country.

Attacks inside the Afghan capital used to be rare, but this year there have been several, and suicide bombings are on the rise throughout the country. There have already been more than 100 this year, compared with only 17 in 2005.

In June, a police academy bus in Kabul was bombed, killing 35 people. That was the deadliest bombing in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taleban government in 2001.

U.S. officials say Taleban militants have resorted to terror tactics out of desperation as coalition forces have stepped-up operations against the them.

Taleban insurgents Saturday released four Red Cross employees after holding them for three days. The Red Cross was trying to negotiate the release of a German hostage held by the insurgents since July. The kidnappers had already executed a second German hostage.

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