Image: Malik Zareen, an influential Afghan tribal elder and former military commander.
Alberto Pizzoli  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Malik Zareen, a former commander who fought the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and went on to become an ally of President Hamid Karzai, visited the country's former king in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 4/13/2011 6:52:23 AM ET 2011-04-13T10:52:23

A suicide bomber detonated his vest full of explosives in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 10 people including an influential tribal elder and former military commander who supported the government of Hamid Karzai, police said.

Malik Zareen, who led troops in Kunar province during the Soviet war in the 1980s, was the target of the midday bombing in Asmar district, said Khalilullah Ziayi, the provincial police chief. Most of those killed and seven others who were wounded were tribal elders, he said.

The attacker approached Zareen during a gathering of elders, hugged him and then detonated the bomb strapped to his body, the BBC's Quentin Sommerville quoted a local police chief as saying.

The Taliban denied it was responsible for the attack, saying Zareen had "his own enemies," the BBC reported. Zareen had survived a previous attempt on his life, according to the BBC.

Karzai's office said the slaying was a "tragic loss," the BBC reported.

Slideshow: Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads (on this page)

Kunar province, along the Pakistan border, has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks. Six U.S. soldiers were killed in the area on March 29.

Also in the east, a NATO service member was killed in a roadside bomb attack Wednesday. So far this year, at least 115 foreign troops, have been killed in Afghanistan. The coalition did not disclose the nationality of the service member who died or where he was killed.

In Logar province, south of Kabul, a roadside bomb killed one person and wounded two others, according to the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

A statement from ministry said the three were riding on a tractor when the bomb exploded next to the vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Video: Quran burning hurts American military efforts

  1. Closed captioning of: Quran burning hurts American military efforts

    >>> anti-american violence spread in afghanistan today, unraveling years of work to build confidence in the american mission among the afghan people . nbc's peter alexander with the latest on that.

    >> reporter: across afghanistan , a third day of rage. these violent protests now blamed for at least 24 deaths, have reached virtually every major afghan city. in the east, in jalalabad, young men rampaged through the streets, torching a cross and an effigy of president obama . the demonstrations were fueled by the recent burning of the koran by radical pastor terry jones at a fundamentalist church in florida, the same man who sparked worldwide outrage for threatening to burn islam's holy book last september. the burning upset the whole muslim world this man said, we condemn this act. in kabul tonight, the united nations ' top diplomat received seven coffins, each draped with a u.n. flag. the victims, all foreign workers , killed friday when a mob stormed their compound. trying to defuse tensions in a statement president obama called the u.n. attack an affront to human decency and condemned the koran burning as an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. general david petraeus who heads up the war in afghanistan criticized the burning as well.

    >> that action was hateful. it was intolerant. and it was extremely disrespectful.

    >> reporter: military analysts warn these recent events damage american efforts to win the support of the afghan people .

    >> these deadly riots demonstrate, if nothing else that even with all the success we've had in lots of places in afghanistan , just one incident 8 8,000 miles away in the united states can prove how fragile these gains really are.

    >> reporter: a mission still at risk nearly ten years into america's longest war peter alexander , nbc news.

Photos: Koran Burning

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  1. Daryl Cagle / msnbc.com, PoliticalCartoons.com
    Above: Slideshow (10) Koran Burning
  2. Image: AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-SOCIETY
    Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (80) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2013
  3. Image: AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN-BORDER
    Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (139) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2012
  4. Image:
    Rahmat Gul / AP
    Slideshow (234) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2011
  5. Image:
    Altaf Qadri / AP
    Slideshow (158) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2010
  6. Image: U.S. army soldiers from Task Force Denali 1-40 Cav reposition a 105mm Howitzer during snowfall at FOB Wilderness in Paktya province
    Zohra Bensemra / Reuters
    Slideshow (88) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Troops
  1. Image: Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest in Kabul
    Ahmad Masood / Reuters
    Slideshow (31) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Civilians

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