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Afghan Suicide Bomber Targets Police   12/18 06:37

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Afghan police officer was killed and another 
three wounded on Thursday when a suspected suicide bomber they were following 
detonated the explosives in his vehicle, an official said.

   "A suicide bomber was trying to enter Kabul with the intention of detonating 
explosives in a crowded part of the city," said Hashmat Stanekzai, spokesman 
for the Kabul provincial police chief. "He was being followed by police."

   The chief of Kabul's provincial police, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, said the blast 
occurred after police stopped the car.

   The Taliban issued a statement to media claiming responsibility.

   Afghan authorities regularly claim to have thwarted attacks on the capital 
as the insurgents concentrate on government, military and foreign targets.

   Five foreigners have been killed in the past month in attacks on soft 
targets such as a French-run school last week, where a German aid worker was 

   The U.S.-led international combat mission, which peaked in 2010 with 140,000 
American and NATO troops, ends on Dec. 31. Afghan security forces will assume 
full responsibility on Jan. 1, with a residual international force of around 
13,000 to provide training and support.

   The head of Afghanistan's intelligence service said the drawdown of foreign 
troops had made it more difficult to track down militants.

   Under pressure to explain the rise in attacks on Kabul, Rahmatullah Nabil, 
chief of the National Security Directorate, told parliament on Wednesday that 
the removal of manpower and technology by withdrawing foreign forces had 
contributed to the spike in violence.

   In Helmand province, he said, 65 surveillance balloons had been removed with 
the closure of U.S. and British bases last month. "Now I have just six agents 
working there," Nabil said.

   He said there were 107 terrorist cells in the provinces surrounding Kabul, 
but the city relied on a security strategy that was up to 40 years out of date.


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