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Bomb targets Pakistani consulate in Afghanistan

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[July 31, 2008]  KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An explosives-rigged bicycle detonated outside a Pakistani consulate in western Afghanistan on Thursday, wounding two people at the gates of the building, officials said.

Pakistan's government, which has had tense relations with Afghanistan, was quick to remind the Afghan government of its duty to protect diplomatic offices. "We hope that Government of Afghanistan will take its responsibility seriously," a statement from Pakistan's foreign ministry said.

The Afghan government said in a statement that it also "strongly condemned the blast."

The explosives detonated outside the gates of the consulate in the city of Herat, said Naeem Khan, spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

He said a policeman was wounded. Mir Ahmad, a police official in Herat, said two people were hurt -- a police guard and a woman.

No one was injured inside the consulate, Khan said. Pakistan has four consulates in Afghanistan, he said.

Afghanistan is battling a raging Taliban-led insurgency, but much of the violence has occurred in the south and the east of the country, although the west has not been immune.

The growing instability in the country has strained relations with Pakistan, which Afghan officials contend is not doing enough to crack down on militants who hide out on its side of the border in the east.

Afghan-Pakistan relations hit a new low after a huge bombing outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7. Indian and Afghan officials say their information indicates Pakistani involvement in the attack, which killed some 60 people.

In other violence, Taliban militants killed Bacha Khan, a tribal elder, and his two sons, and wounded his wife in Arghandab district of the southern Kandahar province, said district chief Zemarai Khan.

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The militants kidnapped seven other elders during the Wednesday raid, Khan said.

Arghandab is seen as a strategic location that is key to controlling access to Kandahar city, the main hub of southern Afghanistan and the Taliban's former stronghold.

Insurgents have overrun the district, which is located 8 miles north of the city, at least twice this year, only to be pushed back by Afghan and foreign troops.

[Associated Press; By FISNIK ABRASHI]

Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Noor Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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