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Bomb blast injures Afghan soldiers

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A huge explosion has wounded at least three soldiers in the southern Afghanistan city of Qandahar, according to the city's most senior security official.



Police chief Khan Muhammad Khan told journalists on Wednesday that there were likely to be many more casualties and that the explosion might have been caused by a time bomb.


The explosion occurred shortly before 0430 GMT at a base used by an Afghan militia corps he had previously commanded.


The blast comes just hours after provincial authorities said they had caught a close associate of Taliban leader Mulla Muhammad Umar, just outside Qandahar.


Eight other suspected Taliban fighters were arrested at the same time, and several remote control bombs, time bombs, different explosive devices and radios were also





Meanwhile, a Turkish engineer was kidnapped in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday along with his Afghan driver and interpreter, police said.


The engineer, working on a road-building project between the southeast city of Jalalabad and Kunar to the east, was snatched at around 1230 GMT, according to Kunar deputy police chief Arif Nizami.


A small Islamist group operating in a heavily forested mountainous area close to the border with Pakistan was suspected of being behind the abduction.


Nizami said the group had about 20 members and was led by a commander called Hazrat-e-Umar, who had links in the past with the larger the Hizb-i-Islami movement led by renegade former PM Gulb al-Din Hekmatyar, now an ally of the Taliban.


The kidnapping took place near the village of Spin Jamahat, about 1km south of Asadabad, 175km northeast of Kabul.


There have been several isolated cases of kidnappings in the past year, notably involving Turkish and Indian road construction workers.



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