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Suicide Bomber Hits NATO Convoy in Afghanistan

Three Canadian troops and eight civilians also were wounded in the attack on the three-car convoy near the Canadian base in the Afghan capital.

“There was a bump in the road, and when they slowed down to pass over it, a terrorist jumped on one of the vehicles and blew himself up,” said Ali Jan Askaryar, head of police in the western district of Kabul, according to the Associated Press.

Spokesmen for the Taliban contacted wire services, claiming to have launched the attack and said more would follow until coalition forces left the country.

At the scene, correspondents reported seeing a badly burned open-backed military jeep with its windows blown out and a burned-out civilian vehicle nearby.

The Canadian defense department identified the dead soldier as Cpl. Jamie Murphy and the wounded men as Lt. Jason Feyko and Corporals Michael Newman and Jeremy MacDonald, according to Reuters.

Canadian soldiers make up the largest contingent in the 5,700-member NATO force, with 2,000 troops serving throughout the war-torn nation.

Canada’s Chief of Defense Staff Ray Henault told reporters that Canada would not be deterred and remained committed to the Kabul mission.

NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer released a statement expressing his condolences to the family of the soldier and to Canadian authorities.

“Canadian soldiers are in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s contribution to restore peace and security in a country that has been plagued with conflict and violence for decades,” he said. “The attack on these soldiers was a shameful act, but it will not detract from our commitment to help Afghanistan build a better, more hopeful future.”

Some Canadian soldiers said they believe the attack was retaliation for a raid the Canadians carried out early last week with Kabul police, in which several suspected terrorists and alleged drug lords were apprehended, the AP reported.

The suicide attack occurred a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a post-Taliban constitution into law. The country’s grand council or loya jirga approved the 162-article document Jan. 4.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said in prepared comments Tuesday that international peacekeeping forces should be increased in Afghanistan to continue making progress in rebuilding the country.

“For [the International Security Assistance Force] to be considered a success, members of the alliance must improve their commitment to the operation,” he said, according to the AP.

The United Nations has also warned that elections slated for June in Afghanistan might be delayed because of poor security.

Violence has continued in the country for more than two years since a U.S.-led force ousted the Taliban from power.

Five Afghan security officials were killed in December when a man they detained blew himself up near Kabul airport.

Two Canadian troops died in October when their car hit a mine on the outskirts of Kabul.

In June, a suicide attack on a bus killed four German soldiers and wounded approximately 30.

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