- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber dressed in a doctor’s white coat slipped into a hospital compound in eastern Afghanistan, where he was challenged by police and NATO soldiers before detonating his explosives yesterday. Seven NATO troops and a hospital employee were injured, a local official said.

The suicide bomber initially was stopped by Afghan police as he entered the compound of the main government hospital in the city of Khost, where about 150 people had gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open an emergency ward.

The bomber fled as he was being questioned, and NATO troops shot him several times before one soldier “wrestled him to the ground, restraining him long enough to allow the crowd of people to move safely away,” a NATO statement said.

That soldier was able to break free before the bomber detonated his explosive and sustained only minor injuries, but two other wounded troops were evacuated to a NATO base for treatment, the statement said. The bomber died.

“The people were running everywhere, and it was difficult at first to figure out what was happening,” Cpl. Anthony Rush, who saw the attack, was quoted as saying.

The alliance gave no details on the troops’ nationalities; Khost provincial Gov. Arsalah Jamal said they were American, and that one hospital employee also was wounded. Most of the NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Meanwhile, the upper house of parliament passed a resolution yesterday that calls for an amnesty for Afghans — including some lawmakers and members of the government — who are suspected of war crimes during a quarter-century of fighting, an official said.

President Hamid Karzai now will decide whether it should become law, said Kadamali Nekpai, chief of the upper house’s press department.

The resolution, which has been condemned by the United Nations and international human rights groups, was passed by the lower house Jan. 31 and covers the mujahedeen leaders who led the anti-Soviet resistance in the 1980s and plunged Afghanistan into civil war in the early 1990s. Many of them sit in parliament.

The upper house approved the same resolution by a 50-16 vote, Mr. Nekpai said.

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