Suicide bomber hits NATO, Afghan troops

Suicide bomber hits NATO, Afghan troops

KABUL - The Associated Press
Suicide bomber hits NATO, Afghan troops

Wounded US soldiers lie on the ground at the scene of a suicide attack in Faryab. AP photo

A suicide bomber blew himself up at a park yesterday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people, including three NATO service members, officials said, the latest in a string of attacks as spring fighting season gets under way.

A senior U.S. defense official has confirmed that two U.S. soldiers were among three NATO forces. Afghan and NATO security forces have frequently been targeted in the surge of violence as militants fight to assert their power and undermine U.S. efforts to try to build up the Afghan military and leave combat responsibility to local forces by the end of 2014.

The bomber was riding a motorcycle when he detonated his explosives at the gate of the park in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province, police spokesman Lal Mohammad Ahmad Zai said. It was not clear what was targeted, but he said four of those killed were police officers.

Faryab is relatively calm, but it is considered to be a stronghold of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an al-Qaeda affiliated group that has been most active in the northern provinces of Afghanistan. Militants also have stepped up their attacks against international and Afghan troops nationwide in recent weeks. Nine Afghan policemen were killed and 11 abducted across the nation in the past three days.

Anger against foreign forces also has risen following a series of missteps, including the burning of copies of Quran and other religious materials in February and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. soldier.