wounded german soldier .
(photo credit: AP)
In a rare attack in Afghanistan's relatively calm north, a suicide bomber detonated himself next to German soldiers shopping in a crowded market, killing 10 people and wounding 16, officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility.
The attack Saturday in the city of Kunduz came after two German vehicles on a security patrol stopped in the market and soldiers got out on foot to do some shopping, said Kunduz provincial police chief Gen. Ayub Salangi.
Three German soldiers were killed and two wounded, said Gen. Noor Mohammad Omarkhail, the province's deputy police chief. Seven civilians were killed and 13 wounded, including seven seriously, said Azizullah Safer, the director of the provincial health department. One translator working for the Germans was also wounded.
A statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed three ISAF soldiers were killed and two wounded.
A purported Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a Taliban militant named Mullah Jawad from Baghlan province carried out the attack. The claim could not be independently verified.
Germany's 3,000 troops here are responsible for northern Afghanistan, which sees relatively few attacks and is considered a much safer region than southern or eastern Afghanistan, where most of the country's fighting takes place.
In Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to continue with reconstruction efforts in the country following the blast - the worst attack against Germans since a car bomb exploded near a bus carrying German peacekeepers in June 2003, killing four soldiers.
"These perfidious murders fill us all with disgust and horror," Merkel said in a statement. "The German military is carrying out an important mission for the reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan. It is the goal of the attackers to destroy the established successes of this rebuilding process."
Last month, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a police training field in Kunduz, killing 10 Afghan policemen and wounding 40 others. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack.
The attack brings to 53 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan this year, including 25 Americans.
Elsewhere, militants attacked US-led coalition and Afghan forces about 75 kilometers northeast of Kabul, sparking a rare gunbattle close to the capital that killed about 20 militants and three civilians, officials said Saturday.
Afghan and allied forces were on combat patrol late Friday in the al-Asay Valley in Kapisa province, which borders Kabul province when they were ambushed, the US coalition said.
The militants placed roadside bombs along the route in a "failed attempt to trap" coalition forces, a coalition statement said. Fighter aircraft fired on the militants, the statement said.
The coalition said "several dozen enemy fighters were estimated killed" during the fight and there were no reports of civilian casualties.
Gov. Abdul Satar Murad, the governor of Kapisa province, said about 20 fighters were killed as well as two women and a child.