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    Bomber strikes court building in Lashkargah

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): A suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body at the entrance of a local court in Lashkargah, the capital of southern Helmand province on Monday, injuring his fellow suicide bomber and three other people, officials said.

    "There were two suicide bombers armed with guns and wanted to enter the building housing an appellant court," the governor's spokesman, Daud Ahmadi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    Police stopped the two in front of the court's gate, but they opened fire at the police, he said, adding one of the bombers exploded his suicide vest as the crossfire continued, injuring his fellow attacker, a policeman and a civilian.

    A fourth person attending a meeting at the Governor's House yard was hit with a bullet, the governor's spokesman said.

     Residents of the city had planned protest demonstrations against the Quran burning incident in the US, but police did not allow them for security reasons, Ahmadi said, adding the suicide attackers wanted to target a government building by infiltrating protestors.

    The governor, Gulab Mangal, accused the Taliban of taking disadvantage of the sentiments of people by provoking them to protest against the Quran burning incident. The militants wanted to pave their way for destructive activities, he said.

    He said police had prevented a huge terrorist attack and that an investigation into the blast had been opened.

    Ahmad Shah, a policeman, told Pajhwok Afghan News at the scene that he rushed to the blast site to take wounded people to hospital when he saw an injured person wearing a suicide belt. "I wanted to take him to hospital, but I left him to die because explosives were strapped to his body," Shah said.

    The injured suicide attacker was arrested and taken to an unknown hospital for treatment, the governor spokesman said.

    A doctor at the main hospital in Lashkargah confirmed receiving three wounded people at the hospital, saying they are in a stable condition.

    There was no word from the Taliban about the incident.

    ma/myn