November 24th, 2007 09:42 EST
Bomb kills 9 Afghans, Italian soldier
KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomb on the outskirts of the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday killed nine civilians, four of them children, and an Italian soldier, the Italian army said.
The hardline Islamist Taliban have killed at least 200 civilians in more than 140 suicide attacks so far this year in their campaign to oust the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the more than 50,000 foreign troops from the country.
The bomber targeted Italian troops at a bridge construction project in the Paghman district, just outside the city.
The Afghan government "strongly condemns this brutal attack which is against humanity, Islam and the stability of Afghanistan," the Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Four Italian soldiers were wounded in the attack and one of them died on his way to hospital, the Italian army said.
The Italians were working on a bridge and many people had gathered around to watch, a senior police official said.
"My brother was covered with blood and I saw a huge cloud of smoke rising and when I put my hand to my head and I realized I was also wounded," said Hanifa, a small girl, as she was carried to an ambulance.
Italian soldiers cordoned off the scene.
Italy has nearly 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of ISAF, most of them in the west of the country. But Italy also has troops in Kabul involved in reconstruction and development projects meant to win Afghan 'hearts and minds'.
Afghanistan has witnessed steadily escalating violence since the Taliban relaunched their insurgency two years ago. Since then, more than 7,000 people have been killed.
(Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Jon Hemming; Editing by John Chalmers)
By Samar Zwak