Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in Northern Afghanistan

Posted April 4th, 2012 at 6:25 am (UTC-5)
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Officials in northern Afghanistan say a suicide bomber has killed at least five people and wounded 26 others.

The attack happened Wednesday near a park in the city of Maimanah, capital of Faryab province.

Police officials say four of the dead are police officers.

Also Wednesday, NATO said a bombing in northern Afghanistan killed two coalition service members. It did not give additional details, and it is unclear if the two attacks are related.

NATO is set to hold a summit next month in the U.S. city of Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan, including the cost and size of maintaining Afghan security forces.

The United States and Afghanistan are also pushing to sign a long-term strategic agreement defining the U.S. presence in Afghanistan once all foreign combat troops leave the country by 2014.

Afghanistan's minister of commerce and industry, Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi, told VOA he is “optimistic” his country will get a positive response from NATO on support for its security needs.

“I think there's been already discussion of $4.1 billion annual assistance to our security forces and I'm quite hopeful that this will get endorsed in Chicago so that for the next 10 years we will have a more reliable source of funding to support our security forces.”

He said he expects a similar response from a conference in Tokyo in July, and that both gatherings will have an important role in the future of Afghanistan.

Ahadi also said Afghanistan continues to work with the United States on the issue of oil imports from Iran.

The U.S. is preparing to impose sanctions against foreign banks that make oil-related financial transactions with Iran's central bank. The U.S. action, in concert with a planned European embargo of Iranian oil purchases, is aimed at pressuring Iran to abandon its disputed nuclear weapons program. Tehran maintains its nuclear work is for civilian purposes.

Ahadi said Afghanistan is “quite dependent” on Iranian oil and does not yet have an alternative. But he said the Obama administration has been “quite understanding” by allowing exemptions if the supply of oil from other countries other than Iran does not allow importers to make significant cuts.