Suicide Bomber in Afghanistan Kills U.S. Marine
A powerful explosion shook Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad shortly after noon local time on Saturday.
Minutes after the blast, Afghan police and American soldiers in armored Humvees had cordoned off a stretch of road.
Gul Agha Sherzai, the governor of Nangarhar province, told NPR the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber in a car. He said one U.S. Marine had been killed and three more Marines were wounded in the blast. Most of the foreign troops deployed in eastern Afghanistan are American soldiers.
As he spoke, Sherzai stepped over un-exploded rounds of grenades, which had spilled from the American armored vehicle after it was hit by the bomb. The force of the blast flipped the vehicle over and threw engine parts more then 100 feet away.
The bomber struck outside the entrance to Ministry of Agriculture. As helicopters circled overhead and Afghan officials inspected the scene, an Afghan farmer struggled with a donkey, to pull a wooden cart with his injured cow tied to the top of it, past the wreckage of the demolished American armored vehicle.
Just minutes after the explosion, life in Jalalabad had returned to normal barely a mile away. Throngs of Afghans, some on foot, others riding in cars and rickshaws, went about their daily business, apparently ignoring the deadly attack that had occurred in broad daylight in the center of their city.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of international soldiers on the edge of Kabul. No troops were hurt in that explosion, but three Afghan civilians were reportedly killed.
American military commanders say the number of roadside bombs and suicide bombs in eastern Afghanistan has spiked over the past month. A spokesman for the NATO alliance, which commands the 50,000-troop foreign force stationed in Afghanistan, blames the rise in violence on recent peace initiatives between the government of neighboring Pakistan and Taliban militants on the Pakistan side of the border.
The United Nations says some 8,000 people were killed in fighting last year in Afghanistan, among them more then 1,500 civilians.
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