Suicide bomber kills 13 at Afghanistan checkpoint

Afghan men lead donkeys loaded with ballot boxes and other election material to be transported to polling stations which are not accessible by road in Shutul, Panjshir province, April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives at a busy checkpoint in central Afghanistan, killing at least 13 people Thursday, an official said. The Taliban insurgents quickly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Six police were killed along with seven civilians at the entry gate into Panjshir province, said Najim Khan, provincial deputy police chief of police.

Most of the civilians killed were in a bus waiting to be searched at the checkpoint, which marks the entrance into Panjshir from Parwan province, he said.

The attacker waited on the narrow mountain road until police approached his vehicle to search it before detonating his explosives, Khan said.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a text message to reporters that one of its fighters had exploded a car bomb in Panjshir.

The insurgency has intensified terror attacks across Afghanistan to sow insecurity and weaken the government as international forces prepare to withdraw by the end of this year.

Panjshir was known as a stronghold of resistance to the Taliban's hard-line Islamic rule over Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion toppled their regime for sheltering al-Qaida terrorist leaders in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The province was the home of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the ethnic Tajik leader of the Northern Alliance who was dubbed "The Lion of Panjshir" for his defiance against the Soviets during the Afghan war in the 1980s and later in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance

Massoud was killed by two suspected al Qaeda members posing as journalists two days before the Sept. 11 attacks.

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