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17 Killed, 45 Wounded in Suicide Bombing in Afghanistan
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At least 17 people were killed, and 45 others injured including 15 children in a suicide bomb attack on Monday in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, an official told Xinhua.

The deadly attack happened at around 12:15 PM local time (07:45 GMT) in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, said Mohejin Khan, spokesman for Helmand governor.

The attack was targeted at Khane Mohammad, a former Lashkar Gah police chief in the communist regime, he added.

Mohammad, his brother, and nephew were killed in the incident, said Hayattullah Khan, Mohammad's bodyguard, who was at the explosion site.

Reports said the attack happened in a market facing a police station in Lashkar Gah when a suicide bomber carrying explosives blew himself up.

Helmand, which is famous for its gigantic opium product and rising insurgence, has been a hotbed of Taliban and other anti-government militants.

Also on Monday, unknown armed militants kidnapped a local intelligence official in Afghanistan's southern Ghazni province, an official at the spokesman's office of Interior Ministry said.

"An intelligence official who was also the son of Qarabagh district chief was abducted by armed militants Sunday evening," the official told Xinhua but refused to be named.

The incident occurred when the ill-fated man, he added, was on his way home to the neighboring Andar district.

He blamed the enemies of Afghanistan, a term used against Taliban operatives, for the incident.

Taliban-linked militants raided the headquarters of Muqar district late in the week but forced to flee.

Afghanistan is suffering from a rise of Taliban-linked violence this year, during which more than 1,900 people have been killed.

In another development, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is going to open its regional office in the troubled eastern Kunar province, spokesman of the mission said Monday.

"Mr. Tom Koenigs, the special envoy of the UN Secretary General to Afghanistan, is today in Assadabad, the provincial capital of Kunar, to open UNAMA's regional office," Adrian Edwards told newsmen at a press briefing in Kabul.

It is the second office of UNAMA opened in the restive provinces of Afghanistan over the past two weeks.

Previously, UNAMA opened its office in Qalat city, the provincial capital of the volatile southern Zabul province.

"The Assadabad officie would allow UNAMA to monitor the human rights issues, strengthening good governance and the rule of law," the spokesman added.

(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2006)

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