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Deadly Attacks Hit Afghanistan Ahead of Foreign Troop Withdrawal

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomb blast destroyed a bus carrying Afghan soldiers in the capital Kabul on Saturday, the latest in a string of violent incidents ahead of the withdrawal of most foreign troops from the war-torn country. There was no immediate confirmation of casualties. Kabul police spokesperson Hashmat Stanekzai confirmed to NBC News that the blast was a result of a suicide bomber. Television images showed the mangled remains of the bus in the west of the city.

Earlier, a U.S. official confirmed that two American soldiers were killed overnight when their convoy came under enemy attack near Bagram Airbase near Kabul in Afghanistan. Also on Saturday, gunmen shot dead senior Supreme Court official Atiqullah Raoufi, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief, Hashmat Stanekzai, told NBC News. The Taliban, ousted from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, claimed responsibility, but did not say why it had killed him.

It was a violent day elsewhere the country. Earlier, Taliban gunmen on motorcycles killed a dozen workers deactivating land mines in southern Afghanistan. The hardline Islamist insurgents, who claimed responsibility for Raoufi's killing, have their own courts in parts of the country and consider the official judiciary to be corrupt. Fatalities and injuries among Afghan security forces and civilians peaked this year to the highest point since the U.S.-led war began in 2001, as foreign forces rapidly withdrew most of their troops from the interior of mountainous nation.

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- Fazul Rahim, with Reuters