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Nato troops among 14 dead in blast

A suicide bomber riding a motorcycle packed with explosives rammed his bike into a patrol of Afghan and international forces in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 14 people, including three Nato service members and their translator, officials have said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast, which came a day after the US death toll in the war in Afghanistan reached 2,000 troops and as relations between international forces and their Afghan partners have been pushed to the breaking point by a surge in insider attacks by Afghan allies.

The bomber struck a group of Afghan police and international troops shortly after they got out of their vehicles to walk through a market area in Khost city, the capital of Khost province, said provincial government spokesman Baryalai Wakman.

Six civilians and four police officers were killed in the blast, Mr Wakman said. He said the police officers were part of a specialised quick-reaction force.

"I heard the explosion and came right to this area. I saw the dead bodies of policemen and of civilians right here," said policeman Hashmat Khan, who ran to the site of the blast from his job as security for a nearby bank.

Coalition spokesman Major Adam Wojack would only confirm that three Nato service members and their translator died in a bombing in the east, without giving an exact location or the nationalities of the dead.

The international military alliance usually waits for individual nations to announce details on deaths. Most of the troops in the east and in Khost province are American. It was not immediately clear if the translator was an Afghan citizen or a foreigner, Maj Wojack said.

Dozens of Afghan civilians were also wounded in the bombing. The city's hospital alone was treating about 30 people injured in the explosion, said Dr Amir Pacha, a physician working there. He added there could be other victims being treated at nearby private clinics.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in text messages to media that the insurgent group was behind the attack.

Joint patrols between Nato and Afghan forces have become more limited following a tide of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies.

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