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Afghan suicide blast kills 3 Indians, 1 Afghan

KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed three Indian road engineers and an Afghan in southwestern Afghanistan on Saturday in the second deadly attack on road builders in a week.

In a separate incident, 24 Taliban were killed in a joint operation by Afghan and foreign troops in Zabul province on Friday night, deputy provincial governor Gulab Shah Alikheil told reporters.

Intermittent violence has broken out in different parts of Afghanistan in recent weeks following a traditional winter lull.

The suicide attack on the road crew was in the remote southwestern province of Nimroz, said provincial governor Ghulam Dastagir Azad.

“The bomber got out of a car and then blew himself up,” Azad told Reuters. Three Indians and an Afghan were killed and three people wounded, the Interior Ministry said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency reported.

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Ousted in 2001, the Taliban are fighting to expel foreign forces and bring down Afghanistan’s Western-backed government.

Their insurgency, which has intensified over the past two years, includes attacks on reconstruction and aid work that the government and its allies hope will win over the people and isolate the insurgent leadership.

Most of the violence is in the south and east, near the border with Pakistan where the Taliban have sanctuaries in remote tribal areas.

Seventeen Afghan road workers were killed in a Taliban attack in the southern province of Zabul on Tuesday.

Zabul deputy governor Gulab Shah Alikheil told reporters 24 Taliban were killed in a ground and air attack by Afghan and foreign troops on Friday night.

There were no casualties among the Afghan and foreign forces, he said.

Additional reporting by Ismail Sameem; Writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Robert Birsel and Bill Tarrant