KABUL, (AP) – A suicide bombing in eastern Kabul killed three civilians on Sunday, two days before an international conference that will host representatives from about 60 nations, an Afghan official said.
The bomber was on foot and his target was unclear, police official Abdul Ghafor Sayedzada said. Other officials said earlier that the attacker was on a bicycle.
Hospitals reported three civilians killed, including a child, public health official Kabir Amiri said. Health ministry spokesman Ghulam Sakhi Kargai said about 40 people were wounded.
University student Tamim Ahmad said he saw a man on foot run up to a passing convoy of international troops and detonate an explosives-laden vest. However, Afghan authorities and NATO said no troops were operating in the area.
Security has been tightened across the capital ahead of Tuesday’s Kabul Conference, which will be attended by the heads of NATO and the United Nations and top diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
However, increased foreign troop numbers and the capture of dozens of Taliban leaders have not been able to prevent insurgent attacks, which have intensified this year across the country.
In May, the Taliban attacked a national peace conference in Kabul with rocket-propelled grenades that landed about 100 yards (meters) from the site of a national peace conference, and insurgents also waged a gunbattle with police outside the meeting site. Three civilians, but no conference delegates, were wounded.
The Taliban also staged a brazen jailbreak Sunday in the western province of Farah, where a smuggled bomb exploded at a prison just as Taliban fighters attacked four police checkpoints, allowing 11 inmates — including suspected insurgents — to escape, officials said.
A guard died in the prison blast and one inmate was shot and killed while fleeing, officials said. One police officer was wounded.
The blast appeared coordinated with armed insurgent attacks on four police checkpoints on the outskirts of Farah city, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askir.
“Of course this is the work of the Taliban,” Askir said. “We think that the militants were trying to keep authorities busy with the attacks on the checkpoints while the explosion happened.”
Farah province’s deputy governor Yonus Rasouli said the prison held a mix of suspected insurgents and common criminals. He said 347 prisoners were being held in a building meant for only 86.
Askir confirmed that Taliban suspects were among those who escaped but could not say how many of the 11 were insurgents.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Amadi sent a message to reporters Sunday taking responsibility for the jailbreak, saying “all of our mujahedeen” were freed and claiming that 15 prison guards were killed. The insurgents often exaggerate death tolls of their enemies for propaganda purposes.