Wedding-party child killed in Afghanistan suicide attack

A suicide bomber targeting a Nato convoy in northern Afghanistan hit a passing bus full of wedding party guests today, killing a child and injuring 28 others, police said.

Deputy police chief Abdul Raouf Taj said most of the injured were women and children on their way to the wedding.

There were no deaths in the convoy, which was near the explosion in Mazari Sharif city. The bus was passing when the suicide bomber detonated his own car and was killed.

Meanwhile, an Afghan journalist detained by coalition forces for allegedly spreading Taliban propaganda has been freed, Nato said.

The release follows an outcry from media workers and an order from President Hamid Karzai on Thursday to investigate the detention and seek the quick release of the journalist and two others.

Al-Jazeera cameraman Mohammad Nadir, who was arrested in the southern city of Kandahar, was one of three Afghan journalists detained over the past week – two by the coalition and Afghan security forces and a third by the Afghan intelligence service.

Nato said it had information linking two of the men to networks that act as a mouthpiece for the Taliban and spread insurgent propaganda.

Mr Nadir was released early today, said Zelmai Ayubi, spokesman for the governor in the southern province of Kandahar where the journalist was arrested.

Hojatullah Mujadadi, a radio station manager in Kapisa province, north of Kabul, was arrested on September 18 by Afghan intelligence agents, and Rahmatullah Naikzad, who works for Al-Jazeera and is a freelancer for the Associated Press, was detained by coalition forces in the eastern town of Ghazni. The coalition said Naikzad remains in detention as his case is being reviewed.

The arrests sparked an angry reaction from Afghan media workers, journalism advocates and human rights groups.

Nato defended the detentions, but the alliance’s secretary-general said he was open to their release if they are found innocent.

“We are in Afghanistan to fight for basic principles like free speech and a free media, and I am a strong defender of that,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the AP on the sidelines of the annual UN summit in New York. He said the cases would be handled fairly.

Meanwhile, Nato said coalition forces conducted an air strike in Kabul province yesterday, killing Qari Mansur, a senior Haqqani operator who was linked, along with five of associates, to an attack against an Afghan National Police unit earlier in the week. The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based faction of the Taliban with close ties to al Qaida.

The coalition said it tracked Mansur to a remote valley east of the Afghan capital and then conducted the air strike. Afghan police could not get to the area because of a suspected mine field, but both Afghan and coalition forces said all six insurgents were killed.

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