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Taliban strike deal with Qatar on office there
Afghan Taliban strike preliminary deal with Qatar to open liaison office there
By The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ' The Afghan Taliban say they have reached a preliminary deal with the Gulf state of Qatar to open a liaison office there that could have a key role in peace talks to end more than a decade of war.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on Tuesday the liaison office will conduct negotiations with the international community. He did not say when it would open.

Mujahid's statement says the Taliban held negotiations with Qatar's government and other "relevant parties" about the office's opening.

For the U.S. and its allies, the idea of a Taliban political office in Doha has become the central element in efforts to draw the insurgents into peace talks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) ' A suicide bomber driving a motorcycle killed four civilians and a police officer in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar city on Tuesday, police said.

Gen. Abul Razaq, Kandahar provincial police chief, said the attack also wounded 16 people, including three police officers and six children. The bomber detonated his explosives at a police checkpoint, he said.

Kamal Shah, a doctor at Kandahar city's Mirwais Hospital, confirmed the casualty count.

Also in the south, NATO said Tuesday that one of its service members was killed by a roadside bomb. A statement said the death occurred on Monday. It gave no further details about the soldier's nationality or where exactly the blast occurred.

A total of 544 NATO troops died in Afghanistan in 2011, the tenth year of the war. The total was considerably lower than for 2010, when more than 700 troops died.

About 840 Afghan soldiers and policemen died in 2011.

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