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KABUL, Afghanistan - A suicide bomber riding a rickshaw blew himself up outside a checkpoint near a market in northern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing at least 15 civilians, officials said.
Nobody immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the capital of Faryab province, but it happened in an area where the Taliban and allied militant groups are active. The Taliban have threatened a campaign of violence to disrupt the April 5 presidential elections.
The attacker was approaching a checkpoint where cars were being searched on a road leading to the governor's compound in Maymana when he detonated his explosives hidden in the rickshaw, the officials said.
However, most of the victims were vendors peddling fresh bread and other people at the busy roadside market area.
Deputy Governor Abdul Satar Barez said 15 people were killed and 46 people were wounded — 27 of them seriously — in the explosion that struck some 200 yards away from the governor's compound.
Women, children and employees of the nearby electricity department were among the casualties, Barez said.
"They killed innocent people in a place where locals were just trying to earn 10 Afghanis (about 20 cents) to buy a piece of bread. Most of the casualties were either selling bread or buying it," he said.
Foreign troops are preparing to end their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of the year.