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Suicide bomber kills 2 in Afghanistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Afghanistan's military: Suicide car bombing at Kandahar airport kills two, injures 16
  • Explosives in minivan detonated at airport security gate
  • Troops engaged in small-arms fire with insurgents
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A suicide car bombing Monday at the Kandahar airport killed two and injured 16, Afghanistan's military said.

The explosives, loaded in a minivan, detonated at the airport gate where cars are stopped for security checks, said military commander Sher Mohammad Zazai.

Troops engaged in small-arms fire with insurgents, NATO Lt. Commander Christopher Hall said in Kabul, but he did not have further details.

Kandahar is east of Helmand province, where a U.S.-led operation is under way to oust the Taliban from their strongholds.

Helmand, a poppy-growing region, is the focus of the U.S.-led Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword. Afghanistan supplies 90 percent of the world's opium -- which is used to make heroin. Most of the revenue supports the Taliban.

The U.S. military wants to gain and hold ground in the perilous region ahead of Afghan national elections in August.

If security can be put in place before the fall harvest begins, farmers may feel safe enough to resist planting poppies, and plant wheat instead. That would be a success, the military has said.

Early Monday, military officials said a NATO service member was killed in a bomb attack Sunday in southern Afghanistan. No further details were immediately available.

CNN's Atia Abawi contributed to this report.

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