- The Washington Times - Monday, March 17, 2008

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bomber attacked a group of international troops at a bazaar in southern Afghanistan today, killing three NATO soldiers and four Afghans, officials said.

Two Danish troops, a Czech special forces soldier and an Afghan translator were killed in the attack in the Gereshk district of Helmand province.

Provincial police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said the suicide car bomb killed three Afghan civilians and wounded seven others.

Four soldiers also were wounded in the attack, a NATO spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

A Czech soldier was transported to an American hospital in Kandahar with serious injuries and was being kept in a medically induced coma, said Lt. Gen. Vlastimil Picek, Czech military chief of general staff.

Picek said a second Czech soldier was not seriously injured and likely would be released soon.

The Czech troops were escorting Danish soldiers on their way to a reconstruction project when the bomb exploded, Picek said.

“It is incredibly tragic that our fight for peace and democracy again should cost human lives,” said Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the nationalist and populist Danish People’s Party, which is a key government ally.

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark had no plans to pull out from Afghanistan.

“A stable Afghanistan is also important for our safety here in Denmark,” Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement. “The Danish government will continue to support the efforts to create stability and progress in the country.”

It was the first time that Danes have been killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan. Denmark has 600 troops in Afghanistan serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

A Danish soldier was wounded while on a patrol yesterday in the same region when the soldier’s unit was attacked with handguns and rockets, the army said.

In nearby Kandahar province, a Canadian soldier died yesterday after stepping on a mine while on patrol in Panjwayi district, the Canadian military said. He was the 81st Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan.

Militants set off 160 suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan last year, a record number, according to the United Nations. More than 8,000 people died from insurgency-related violence, the U.N. reported.

Associated Press Writer Jan Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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