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Roadside bomb kills 19 Afghans

KABUL — A roadside bomb tore through a minibus carrying people to a wedding celebration in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 19 people and wounding 16, authorities said.

The blast underscored the heavy toll the war has taken on civilians who are frequently caught up in the fighting between insurgents and Afghan and foreign security forces.

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The bus was taking guests to a wedding celebration in the Dawlat Abad district of the northern Balkh Province, about 270 miles northwest of Kabul, police spokesman Shir Jan Durani said.

District police commander Bismullah Muslimyar gave the death toll and said six children and seven women were among those killed in the 6 a.m. blast. He said a police patrol had passed through the area during the night.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the attack.

‘‘Planting a mine on a road used by civilians and the killing of innocent people represents hostility toward humanity,’’ he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, NATO’s visiting top official urged the Afghan government to ensure that the next presidential elections in 2014 are free and fair. Karzai will not be able to run after having served the maximum two terms in office.

Separately, six football fans died and 36 were injured Friday when their bus collided with a fuel tanker on a narrow road about 240 miles northwest of the capital, provincial governor Mohammad Aleem Saaie said.

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