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Taliban suicide attack kills two, wounds dozens in Afghanistan

A suicide bomber has killed at least two and wounded over 50 people, among them several foreign troops. The Taliban said the attack was revenge for a series of executions by the Afghan government.

A member of the Taliban detonated a truck carrying explosives in a province southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Friday. A spokesperson for the militant group told reporters that the attack was a message to the Afghan government.

"It was a revenge attack by our mujahed in response to the execution of four mujahedeen by the Kabul administration," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP news agency.

This week, 14 members of the Taliban were executed within two days, all of which were approved by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

International rights groups criticized the use of the death penalty, with Amnesty International calling the hangings a "terrible step backwards for Afghanistan."

Location of attack unclear

Initial reports showed discrepancies as to where the blast occurred. A Taliban spokesperson told reporters that the suicide bomber had detonated the explosives near a military training center in the city of Maidan Shahr.

Maidan Shahr is the capital of Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan, where NATO forces have stationed many of their troops.

However, an unnamed local police official disputed this claim, telling dpa that the truck exploded, "behind a bazaar in a residential area in Maidan Shahr city."

"There are no military bases or governmental buildings in the area. It is a strictly civilian population," the official said.

The Taliban has been escalating its attacks against NATO-led troops and Afghan forces this year. NATO is scheduled to end its operations in the war-torn country in 2014, a full 13 years after the United States invaded the country in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

France withdrew its last troops from Afghanistan early this week.

Military leaders have expressed concern that the increase in violence heralds a difficult security handover to Afghan authorities in less than two years.

kms/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)