- Associated Press - Friday, March 17, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A suicide truck bomber struck a military checkpoint in Afghanistan on Friday, killing one soldier and wounding 10, while another suicide bomber elsewhere in the country killed the brother of a local religious leader he had targeted for assassination, officials said.

Mohammad Akbar Zadran, a district governor in the eastern Khost province, said the early morning truck bomb attack damaged nearby houses and a school. After the blast, two Taliban gunmen opened fire at the troops, triggering a shootout that left both militants dead, he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the attack in a media statement.

In the eastern Nangarhar province, a suicide bomber tried to kill a local religious affairs director outside a mosque following Friday prayers, but the official’s brother intervened, wrapping his arms around the bomber before he set off his payload, killing both of them, said Ajmal Omar, a member of the provincial council. He said the religious affairs official, Zahir Aqhani, was unharmed.

No one immediately claimed the attack.

The Taliban has been at war with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul since the 2001 invasion that drove the Islamic militants from power. The insurgents have expanded their reach and stepped up attacks since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.

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