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Rickshaw bomb kills 'innocent' Afghans, including 3 children

| Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber riding a rickshaw blew himself up on Tuesday outside a checkpoint near a market in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 17 civilians, officials said.

Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack in the capital of Faryab province, but it occurred in an area where the Taliban and allied militant groups are active. The Taliban have threatened a campaign of violence to disrupt the April 5 vote, which will choose a new president to lead Afghanistan as foreign troops prepare to end their combat mission by the end of the year.

The attacker was approaching a checkpoint where vehicles were being searched on a road leading to the governor's compound in Maymana, the Faryab provincial capital. He detonated his explosives hidden in the rickshaw, officials said.

However, most of the victims were vendors peddling fresh bread and customers at the busy, roadside market area.

Provincial Gov. Mohammadullah Patash that among the 17 killed were three children. The explosion struck some 200 yards away from the governor's compound; 26 were wounded.

Employees of the nearby electricity department were among the casualties, according to deputy Gov. Abdul Satar Barez.

“They killed innocent people in a place where locals were just trying to earn 10 Afghanis (about 20 cents) to buy a piece of bread. Most of the casualties were either selling bread or buying it,” he said.

President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the attack, saying it served only the purpose of foreigners, which he said was to kill Muslims and create instability in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have staged numerous attacks in Faryab, which lies far from their traditional strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

In October 2012, a suicide bomber struck a mosque packed with senior regional officials in Maymana, killing 41 people.

Afghan civilians are frequently caught up in the violence as insurgents battle Afghan and international troops in an effort to undermine the Western-backed government.

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