Blast kills nine in largely peaceful Afghan north

KABUL - Explosives planted on a bicycle killed nine people in the relatively peaceful Faryab province of northern Afghanistan on Monday, including a provincial council member, police said, amid an increase in violence across the country.
The attack came a day after gunmen shot dead a top Afghan peace negotiator in the capital Kabul, dealing another blow to the country's attempts to negotiate a deal with the Taliban as a means to ending the war. The Taliban denied involvement.
Police said the remote-controlled bomb killed eight civilians and council member Amanullah Shahabzai as they sat in front of a pharmacy in the Ghormach district of Faryab.
Compared with Afghanistan's restive south, where Taliban insurgents hold large sway and enjoy enormous popular support, the north has seen relatively little violence in the NATO-led war, which just entered its 11th year.
Afghan security officials have said they expect this year's summer fighting season to be particularly bloody as the third phase of a security handover from NATO to Afghan forces gets underway. NATO combat troops plan to leave by end-2014.
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