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Official: Al-Qaida boosts Afghan activity
Updated: 2005-11-16 22:04

Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network has increased its activities in Afghanistan, smuggling in explosives, high-tech weapons and millions of dollars in cash for a resurgent terror campaign, the defense minister said Wednesday.

A number of Arabs and other foreigners have entered Afghanistan to launch suicide attacks, Defense Minister Rahim Wardak said in an interview with The Associated Press.

His comments came after an unprecedented series of suicide assaults the latest on Wednesday when a bomber attacked a U.S. military convoy, killing three civilians.

"There has been ... more money and more weapons flowing into their hands in recent months," he said. "We see similarities between the type of attacks here and in Iraq."

Wardak said al-Qaida militants and other foreign Islamic extremists had teamed up with local Taliban rebels.

"There is no doubt that there is a connection between Taliban and al-Qaida and some other fundamentalists," he said. "In most cases, the suicide bombers are foreigners ... from the Middle East, from neighboring countries. ... It is a new trend."

But he said not all the suicide assailants were extremists and that some had been duped into carrying explosives.

"There have been some cases where people have been used without knowing that they are being fixed with explosives and someone else detonated it from a distance," he said.

Until two months ago, suicide bombings were relatively rare in Afghanistan, unlike in Iraq. But since then, nine such assaults have been used nationwide.

Wednesday's attack in Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, which also wounded four civilians, came two days after militants used twin suicide car bombs to attack NATO peacekeepers in the capital, Kabul, killing a German soldier and eight Afghans.

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