Bomb kills 4 hitting Afghan Army Convoy

A bomb hit an Afghan army convoy trucks loaded with troops as they were driving through a southern city, killing four people and wounding 16, officials reported. Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zahir Azimi said that the blast was a suicide car bombing, but the army leader in Kandahar city, where the attack occurred, said it was a roadside bomb.

The open-backed automobiles were returning to Kandahar from an operation outside the city, a former Taliban stronghold, when they were hit by the blast near a crowded market, both officials said. One soldier and three passers-by were killed at once, while six troops and 10 civilians were wounded, Raufi said.

Azimi earlier said that three soldiers had been killed, but later said he had been mistaken.

One of the eyewitnesses witness, Abdul Khan, said the bomb appeared to have been hidden in a roadside cart loaded with fruit. "One of the trucks was totally destroyed. The soldiers were thrown from the back and it hit so many people standing on the street," he said.

The aggression came a day after a suicide car bomb in Kandahar killed a senior Canadian diplomat as well as two Afghan civilians. Three Canadian troops were also wounded.

There have been about 25 suicide bombings in the past four months in Afghanistan _ a relatively new tactic for militants here and one that has reinforced fears that this country may see more assaults modeled on those in Iraq.

Violence across southern and eastern Afghanistan spiked last year, leaving about 1,600 people dead, the most since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001 for hosting Osama bin Laden.

The battle normally eases during the winter months, when snow blankets the region, but the past few weeks have seen a string of suicide attacks and other assaults, the AP reports.

D.M.