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Afghanistan bombings kill 11

The separate blasts occurred near the border with Pakistan. U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke says a new strategy will focus on recruiting police.

March 22, 2009|Associated Press

ASSOCIATED PRESS KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Two separate bombings Saturday killed 11 people near Afghanistan's volatile eastern border with Pakistan, officials said, marring a festive day across the country as citizens celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a NATO soldier was killed in a "hostile incident" in the country's south, the military alliance said Saturday.

A bomb detonated by remote control killed five people near a shrine in the eastern province of Khost as they celebrated Nowruz, said the provincial police spokesman, Wazir Pacha. The blast on the outskirts of Khost city wounded five people, he said.

North of Khost in Nangarhar province, a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at a police checkpoint, killing six people, including five civilians and one policeman, said police spokesman Ghafor Khan. The blast also wounded four civilians and a policeman at the security post set up to search cars entering Chaparhar district for the new year celebrations, he said.

Richard Holbrooke, the American envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said Saturday that a new U.S. strategy for the war in Afghanistan would focus on improved recruitment and training of the country's national police force.

Holbrooke, speaking at a debate in Brussels, said the plan would push for a "very significant increase" in the number of police. He said a larger police force will free up North Atlantic Treaty Organization and U.S. troops to concentrate solely on military actions to help stabilize Afghanistan.

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