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Soldier Dies In Afghan Suicide Bombing

A suicide bomber plowed an explosives-laden car into a NATO-led force's convoy in southern Afghanistan, killing one soldier, a statement from the force said. A purported Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack.

U.S.-led coalition troops and Afghan forces, meanwhile, raided a building in southeastern Afghanistan on Friday, killing three suspected al Qaeda members, officials said.

The suicide attack occurred on the highway in the Spin Boldak district of the southern Kandahar province when the bomber in a white Toyota attacked a military convoy, the statement said. The nationality of the killed soldier was not released. Most of the soldiers in the area are Canadians.

A purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, claimed responsibility for the blast and said the bomber was an Afghan named Mohammad Ilyas.

Ahmadi often contacts journalists to claim attacks for the Taliban, but his exact ties to the militia's leadership are unclear.

Afghanistan has seen a surge in violence this year, particularly in the south where rebel supporters of the toppled Taliban regime have stepped up attacks as Afghan and NATO-led troops are trying to drive insurgents out of their safe havens, triggering the bloodiest fighting since the Taliban were ousted.

The alleged al Qaeda operatives were killed in the village of Ya'Qubi in southeastern Khost province, the coalition said in a statement. Three other suspects were detained.

"The purpose of this operation was to capture an al Qaeda facilitator considered a significant threat to Afghan and coalition forces," the statement said.

Those targeted were linked to a number of attacks using car bombs and other explosive devices in the province, the coalition said.

In the central Logar province, 10 suspected Taliban militants intercepted a group of 15 men coming from a wedding party early Friday and beat them with rifle butts. They then set fire to a local radio station that broadcasts music and entertainment programs, a witness and a police chief said.

The incident occurred just 30 miles south of Kabul and was reminiscent of the times when Taliban militants imposed strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan, including a ban on music and entertainment, before being ousted by a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.

One of the men from the wedding party, who did not want to reveal his name for fear of retribution, said a companion's leg was broken in the beating.

"The Taliban cocked their guns and started questioning us," he said, adding that the militants criticized them for celebrating during a "time of occupation" in Afghanistan — an apparent reference to the presence of foreign forces in the country.

The suspected Taliban then burned the private radio station, said Gen. Mohammad Mustafa, the provincial police chief.