Afghan minister survives car bomb attack: police

Afghan Energy Minister Mohammad Ismail Khan survived a car bomb attack in the west of the country Sunday that left at least four civilians dead and 17 wounded, police said.

The attack occurred in the town of Herat when the car bomb exploded in the path of the minister's convoy, local police spokesman Abdul Raouf Ahmadi said.

"Four people were killed, including a woman and a child. And 17 other people were wounded," he said. The local governor's office confirmed the toll.

Among the wounded were three of the minister's bodyguards, who were being treated in hospital for minor injuries, said Naqibullah Arwin, spokesman for the local governor's office.

The minister himself escaped unscathed and had already returned to Kabul.

Interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary confirmed there were casualties but was unable to provide further details, such as whether it was a suicide attack.

Afghan bystanders look at the wreckage of a car, destroyed in an explosion in the city of Herat

Witnesses told an AFP correspondent at the scene that the blast was set off by a suicide car bomber.

Besides the car driven by the bomber, other civilian vehicles and two houses were seriously damaged in the attack.

Afghanistan had been hit hard by a renewed Taliban insurgency, which has paralysed a Western-backed reconstruction drive, cost the lives of thousands of people, and bogged NATO and US troops down in a nearly eight-year conflict.

NATO and the United States have more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan fighting the insurgency, which is at its deadliest level in the eight years since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in Kabul.

President Hamid Karzai, beleaguered by accusations of fraud in last month's presidential election, has said he will launch peace talks with Taliban leaders if he wins another five years in the country's top job.

Preliminary results from the poll show Karzai leading with 54.6 percent of the vote, against 27.8 percent for his main rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah.

However, final results will not be announced until complaints of irregularities are investigated and a partial recount conducted.

source AFP

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