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'Suicide attack targets NATO troops'

world Updated: Aug 30, 2009 12:25 IST

A suicide bomber blew himself up close to NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing up to two Afghan civilians and wounding more than 20 others, officials said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, which has 64,500 troops in Afghanistan to fight a growing Taliban insurgency, confirmed "an incident" involving its troops but had no other details available.

The attack happened when Afghan police and NATO troops were walking through a small town in the province of Zabul, the local district governor told AFP.

"International forces were on a foot patrol in Shahjoy town when a suicide bomber on foot detonated himself alongside them. In the incident, 21 civilians were wounded and two of them were killed," said Shahjoy governor Abdul Qayoum.

The deputy police chief of Zabul province confirmed the attack.

"It was a suicide attack that resulted in 22 (Afghan) people wounded. Two were killed so far," Ghulam Jailani said.

The interior ministry said one Afghan civilian died and 22 were wounded in the attack targeting coalition forces on foot patrol.

There were no details of any NATO casualties.

Meanwhile the head of the anti-terror police squad in the volatile eastern province of Khost was shot dead in a drive-by Taliban shooting on his way home on Saturday in the Mando Zayi district, police said. One attacker was also killed in a shootout.

Elsewhere in the troubled south, six Taliban-linked insurgents were killed in a gunbattle with Afghan and international forces on Friday, police said.

The rebels were killed when Afghan police, backed by Western troops, pursued an attack on Pusht Rod district in the southwestern province of Farah.

More than a dozen rebels were wounded, Faqir Ahmad Askar, provincial police chief, said.

There are more than 100,000 NATO and US soldiers stationed in Afghanistan helping the Afghan government defeat a resurgent Taliban since the hardline movement was toppled from power in the 2001 US-led invasion.