msnbc.com news services
updated 10/16/2004 8:41:30 AM ET 2004-10-16T12:41:30

A bomb killed two American soldiers and wounded three others in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Saturday, while a separate attack in an eastern Afghan province killed at least three children and a policeman on the first day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

The fresh violence came a week after millions voted in a landmark election they hope will bring peace back to their war-ravaged nation.

Vote counting in the historic presidential election resumed Saturday after a break on Friday to mark the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

With just one percent of the vote counted so far, interim leader Hamid Karzai surged to the lead with 70 percent.

The attack on the soldiers occurred Thursday in Uruzgan province, northwest of Deh Rawood, where a U.S. military base is located. Maj. Mark McCann, a U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, said in a brief statement that an improvised explosive device — a homemade bomb — was to blame.

Another U.S. official confirmed the casualties were American soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division.

About 18,000 U.S. soldiers make up the vast majority of the coalition forces hunting Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

Truck bomb kills at least 3 children, policeman
On Saturday, Karzai's office said in a statement that unidentified attackers set a truck on fire in the Asmar area of the Kunar province, drawing a crowd, and then detonated a remote-controlled bomb, killing at least three children and a policeman.

Kunar Gov. Syed Fazel Akbar, however, said five people had died.

He said the U.S.-led coalition had hired the truck to carry supplies to a military base when it was stopped by “enemy” fighters and set on fire 20 miles north of Asadabad, the provincial capital.

He said the driver fled and reported the incident to authorities. When police arrived two hours later at the scene, a mine exploded near their vehicle, killing a police officer and four bystanders who had gathered around the wreckage of the truck. The Asmar district police chief was also wounded in the blast, he said.

Akbar had no details about the four dead civilians, including their ages, and what supplies the truck was carrying.

Karzai strongly condemned Friday's truck assault, saying it was an atrocity committed by “enemies of Islam.”

“The terrorists that perpetrated this attack showed once more their barbarous, inhuman and un-Islamic face by the killing of innocent civilians, especially children,” Karzai said in the statement.

“Clearly, only the enemies of Islam could commit such an atrocity on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.”

Afghanistan had a public holiday Friday for the start of Ramadan, when Muslims observe a dawn-to-dusk fast.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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