Suicide bomber kills Afghan tribal elder

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up in a market Friday in eastern Afghanistan, killing a pro-government tribal elder and wounding three civilians, authorities said.

The bombing struck the tribal elder Gul Babri at about 2 p.m. in the market of the Jani Khil district of Paktiya province, provincial government spokesman Mokhlis Afghan said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes after last week's presidential election. The Taliban and other insurgents frequently target government officials and their allies in a bid to undermine efforts to forge stability in the country as U.S.-led combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.

Afghan security forces have been widely praised over the April 5 elections for a new president and provincial councils, which occurred without major violence despite a series of high-profile attacks in the weeks before. The Taliban had vowed to target polling stations and election workers, but millions of Afghans cast their ballots largely without bloodshed.

Authorities in another eastern province, Ghazni, said some attacks were foiled when a suicide bomber's explosives-packed vest detonated in a religious school earlier this month, killing 16 other militants who had been planning attacks against the balloting.

Three Pakistanis and an Afghan Taliban commander were among those killed in a remote area of the Gilani district, police said.

The circumstances were unclear. District police chief Mohammad Hashim said the explosion was an accident that happened during a training exercise in which the Pakistanis were demonstrating how to use the vests. Plainclothes police had gone to the area for further investigation but found the madrassa surrounded by Taliban, so more details were not available, Hashim said.

However, a senior official in Kabul, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information, said the man was a local villager recruited by the Taliban to stage attacks before the election but he ended up setting off the charge among his fellow militants instead.

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