Vol. 5 Num 574 Fri. January 06, 2006  

Car bomb kills 10 in Afghanistan

Ten people died and 50 were wounded yesterday in a suicide car bomb attack in central Afghanistan during a visit by the US ambassador, US and Afghan officials said.

US envoy Ronald Neumann was unhurt by the massive blast near the governor's headquarters in Tirin Kot, capital of the central province of Uruzgan, provincial officials and the US embassy told AFP.

The Taliban militia, which was ousted from power in late 2001 by a US-led military operation, claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Today when the US ambassador was on a visit to Uruzgan an explosion took place which killed ten people and wounded 50 others, and the ambassador was in the provincial headquarters," deputy governor Abdul Aziz told AFP.

"Fifteen of the wounded are in critical condition including the provincial police director. The area was crowded because the US ambassador was visiting," he added.

Provincial spokesman Abdullah Jan said it was a suicide attack. "It was a suicide car bomb attack half a kilometre outside the provincial headquarters," he said.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Kabul, Lou Fintor, confirmed that the ambassador was unharmed after the "security incident" in Uruzgan.

"Ambassador Neumann and his delegation of US officials visited a PRT (provincial reconstruction team) and conferred with local officials in Tirin Kot on Thursday," he said.

"The ambassador and his delegation are safe and have been accounted for. They were never in any danger."

The governor, Jan Mohammad Khan, was away in Mecca for the Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage, provincial spokesman Jan added.

He said there were both police and civilians in the area at the time but the breakdown of the casualties was not available.