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Over a dozen hurt in blast in Afghan City
( 2003-12-06 17:09) (Agencies)

More than a dozen people were wounded Saturday in an explosion in the center of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, witnesses said.

Marina Golbahari, 15, a street begger turned artist, blushes during an interview at Aschiana, an Afghan relief agency for children, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003. Golbahari played a major role in 'Osama,' the story of a young Afghan girl who is being raised by her mother and grandmother in Kabul under the Taliban regime. [AP]
A Reuters reporter said the blast shattered windows in the hotel building where he was staying and he saw more than a dozen people wounded at the scene, some of whom appeared to have multiple injuries.

A police officer at the scene said the blast may have been caused by explosives rigged to a bicycle.

Kandahar police chief Mohammad Hashim immediately pinned the blame on Taliban guerrillas and their allies. "This is the work of Taliban and their foreign supporters," he told reporters.

Last Wednesday, two U.S. soldiers were wounded, one seriously, when a renegade Afghan policeman threw a grenade at a U.S. military vehicle in crowded market in Kandahar.

Another policeman and a local bystander were also slightly hurt in that attack as four U.S. military vehicles were driving through.

Kandahar was the seat of power of the Taliban regime overthrown by U.S.-led forces in late 2001. It and the surrounding province have been the scene of a number of attacks blamed on the guerrillas and their militant allies since then.

Saturday's blast came a day after the Taliban threatened to step up attacks ahead of a Grand Assembly or Loya Jirga in Kabul later this month to approve a new constitution.

Taliban commander Hafiz Abdul Majeed, a member of the 10-man Taliban leadership council, told Reuters Friday the Loya Jirga would be a "drama" staged by U.S. occupiers and anyone attending it deserved to die.

Earlier Saturday, the U.S. military said it had seized a large arms cache Thursday hidden in the main jail in Kandahar, from where 41 Taliban members staged a dramatic tunnel escape in October.

U.S. military spokesman Colonel Bryan Hilferty said the cache included hundreds of neatly stacked, but unserviceable, 107 mm rockets, 82 mm mortars, antipersonnel mines and assorted small arms.

He said the munitions were transported to the U.S. base at Kandahar airfield for destruction at a later date. He said the matter was under investigation with Afghan authorities.

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