- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber killed a deputy provincial governor and five others Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan, police said. Later, a tearful President Hamid Karzai decried the violence, fretting that young people will choose to flee their country.

The bomber rammed a motorized rickshaw loaded with explosives into one of two vehicles in a convoy taking Deputy Gov. Khazim Allayar to his office in Ghazni city. His adult son, a nephew and a bodyguard were also killed, said Ghazni province police chief Zarawar Zahid. Two civilians nearby were also killed in the blast and a number of others wounded, he said.

Afghan government officials are prime targets for the Taliban and other insurgent groups that have instituted an assassination campaign against people who work with either the Afghan government or NATO forces.

Mr. Allayar, who held the post for more than seven years, survived a bombing attempt just two months ago in Ghazni city.

Mr. Karzai condemned the attack in a statement. He then called on his fellow Afghans to decry such violence during a speech in the capital about literacy efforts in the country.

“Our sons cannot go to school because of bombs and suicide attacks. Our teachers cannot go to school because of clashes and threats of assassination. Schools are closed,” he said, adding he worries that those among Afghanistan’s youth who can flee will abandon their country, go to school abroad and become estranged from Afghanistan.

“I don’t want my son Mirwais to be a foreigner. I want Mirwais to be Afghan,” Mr. Karzai said of his four-year-old son and breaking into tears. Wiping his face, he asked Afghans not to use war as an excuse to let their country fall apart.

To the Taliban he said: “My countrymen, do not destroy your own soil to benefit others.”

Mr. Karzai — who first became Afghan leader after a U.S.-led invasion that toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001 and still relies on international troops to support his weak government — said that the people of Afghanistan, buffeted by war for decades, are once again victims in the current fight.

“Now NATO is here and they say they are fighting terrorism, and this is the 10th year and there is no result yet,” he said, explaining that Afghans are caught up in the violence between the goals of Western powers and militants backed by other countries.

“Whoever has any problem, they come to Afghanistan to find a solution,” he said.

Much of the anger at outsiders derives from the tense relationship between Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, which militants use as a safe haven for launching attacks and planning strategy.

Mr. Karzai has regularly called on the international community to spend more effort chasing down insurgents across the border in Pakistan, a contentious issue because Islamabad says it bars NATO forces from operating there. The U.S. relies on drones for attacks on militant targets in Pakistan, but manned coalition aircraft have also crossed the border in pursuit of insurgents.

On Monday, Pakistan issue a strong protest to NATO over helicopter strikes that killed more than 70 militants at the weekend, saying that U.N. rules do not allow the choppers to cross into its airspace even in hot pursuit of insurgents.

NATO said it launched the strikes in self-defense after militants attacked a small security post in Afghanistan near the border.

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