Afghan bomber targets NATO convoy

KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide car bomber targeted a NATO convoy in Kabul on Tuesday, wounding 10 civilians passing nearby, officials said.
The attack comes as Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to meet with President Hamid Karzai and other officials for talks Tuesday.

Gates was “nowhere near the blast,” said a U.S. Embassy official who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak on the issue publicly.

The bomber struck a two-vehicle convoy belonging to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force near the city’s airport, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said.

Ten civilians who were riding in a minibus near the blast were wounded, said Ghulam Rasool, a police officer.

There were no casualties in NATO convoy, said Lt. Col. Thomas Dillschneider, an ISAF spokesman.

The attacker’s car was completely destroyed and three private vehicles, including the minibus, also were damaged, said an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Militants have launched more than 130 suicide attacks this year — a record number. At least 6,200 people have died in insurgency-related violence in 2007, also a record, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Afghan and Western officials.

Suicide attacks frequently target international and Afghan security forces, but most of the casualties are civilian passers-by.

On Monday, another suicide bomber blew himself up next to a police patrol in southwestern Nimroz province, killing two police officers and two civilians, said provincial governor Ghulam Dastagir.

The blast also wounded three officers and four civilians, Dastagir said.

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