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Suicide attack kills key Afghan elder, 9 others

Malik Zareen, an influential Afghan tribal elder and former military commander.
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.Alberto Pizzoli / AFP - Getty Images file
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

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.

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.