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Suicide attack on anti-drugs team kills 19

A suicide bomb tear through a team preparing to eradicate opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan, killing 19 people, most of them policemen.

world Updated: Apr 29, 2008 22:33 IST

A suicide bomb tore through a team preparing to eradicate opium poppy fields in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 19 people, most of them policemen, the government said.

The hardline Taliban movement said one of its men carried out the attack in the small town of Khogyani in Nangarhar province, near the insurgency-hit border with Pakistan.

The bomb struck as a counter-narcotics team was preparing to travel to opium fields to destroy illegal poppy crops, the interior ministry said in a statement.

"Nineteen people including 12 police and seven civilians lost their lives and 41 others were wounded," it said.

The dead included an Afghan working on a United Nations counter-narcotics program and a child, Nangarhar governor Gul Agha Sherzai said in he city of Jalalabad, 25 kilometers from Khogyani.

The wounded included two foreign journalists, a French national and an Australian, reporting on the poppy eradication mission, he said.

"Most of the civilians wounded were people who were hired to carry out the eradication," the governor added.

Afghanistan produces more than 90 per tcen of the world's opium and officials say the lucrative trade is in par funding an insurgency-led by the Taliban and involving a range of militants.

The interior ministry said the attack was proof of the "ties between opium cultivation and terrorist circles."

A man claiming to be a Taliban commander for the region told an AFP reporter by telephone that the suicide bombing was carried out by a militant from his group.