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Suicide blast kills 3 American soldiers in usually peaceful Afghan province

Gul Buddin Elham / AP

Wounded U.S. soldiers lie on the ground at the scene of a suicide attack Wednesday in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province north of Kabul, Afghanistan.


A suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed at least 10 people, including three American soldiers, Wednesday in Afghanistan's relatively peaceful northern Faryab province, police said.

Pentagon and military officials told NBC News that the three Americans, who were not identified, were "partnered" with Afghan forces on a routine patrol when the blast occurred.

Afghan police said the Americans were taking pictures at a park in Maimanah, when shortly before noon, the bomber detonated his explosives at the park gate. Police said four of the 10 killed were Afghan police officers. At least 20 people were wounded, officials said.

Slain soldiers lay on blood-soaked pavement beside a blown-off leg and strewn helmets, witnesses told Reuters. Afghan police rushed to try to move soldiers into vehicles.

"We warned them (Americans) not to roam around the city," provincial police chief General Abdul Khaliq Aqsai told Reuters.

He added that witnesses said the bomber walked right up to them and screamed "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) before detonating his suicide vest.

Faryab is relatively calm but is a stronghold of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, or IMU, an al-Qaida-affiliated group that has been most active in Afghanistan's northern provinces. The IMU was formed in 1991, originally aiming to set up an Islamic state in Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan. Later it expanded its goal to seeking an Islamic state across Central Asia.

Militants also have stepped up their attacks after Taliban fighters' usual winter break. Heavy snow covers many of the mountain passes used by the Taliban and other insurgent fighters to cross mainly into eastern Afghanistan from safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.

This article includes reporting by NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press.

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