-- A purported Taliban militant set off grenades strapped to his body on a bustling Kabul street Saturday, killing an American woman and an Afghan girl. Several others were wounded, including three NATO soldiers.
The bombing broke a lull in violence in Kabul following a security clampdown for landmark presidential elections that U.S.-backed interim leader Hamid Karzai appeared set to win.
A Taliban spokesman asserted responsibility for the assault, which left the bomber's mutilated body slumped between the soldiers' car and the front of a carpet store.
Killed in the blast was Jamie Michalsky, 23, who had served in Afghanistan with the Army Reserves for about a year until late last year, her stepfather, Dan Everson, said. The 11-year-old Afghan girl died late Saturday in a Kabul hospital, said NATO spokesman Sqn. Ldr. David Bennett.
Michalsky, who grew up in Cokato, Minn., had been in Uzbekistan for a translating job, Everson said. She had traveled to Afghanistan to visit a doctor and had been shopping in Kabul on Saturday, he said.
"She was enthusiastic when it came to serving her country, but she definitely had doubts about whether it was the right place to be," Everson said of Michalsky's time in Uzbekistan. "She was a very strong-willed young lady with a mind of her own."
Everson said the family learned of Michalsky's death from her employer, Worldwide Language Resources. Calls to the Maine-based company were not returned Saturday.
Lt. Col. Patrick Poulain, a spokesman for the NATO-led force that has provided security in Kabul since the Taliban fell in December 2001 after a U.S. invasion, said the attacker was on Chicken Street, an area popular with foreigners, when he threw at least three hand grenades. One failed to explode.
Two soldiers were slightly wounded but the third was hurt "more seriously," Poulain said. He declined to give the nationalities of the soldiers, who were admitted to a German-run field hospital.