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17 killed in bath house bombing

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in a bath house in southern Afghanistan that killed 17 people, including a senior border patrol officer.

Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, the insurgency's spokesman in the south, says the attack in the city of Spin Boldak targeted a police officer who served as second-in-command of the border patrol in the Kandahar province area.

Some 23 other people were wounded in the blast that occurred in a bath house as men were washing before Friday prayer, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

Officials have confirmed the officer was killed, but have not identified him as the second in command of the border patrol.

Nato also announced that one of its service members was killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan.

The blast reflected the continuing instability in Afghanistan, particularly in the southern part of the country. That area has traditionally been the Taliban's stronghold and the scene of some of the fiercest fighting of a war that is approaching the start of its 10th year.

Nato has bolstered its forces in the south, but the insurgents have been able to stand their ground there and expand their operations to other parts of Afghanistan once considered relatively safe.

The latest Nato death was the coalition's seventh this year, marking a grim start to 2011 for the forces. Last year, 702 Nato service members were killed, the deadliest year for the international force in Afghanistan.

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