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Six Killed In Afghan Suicide Attack; Karzai's Brother Escapes

KABUL (Reuters) -- Six people were killed and at least 40 wounded in a suicide bomb attack on government buildings in southern Afghanistan, officials said, but a brother of the Afghan president who was in one of the offices was unhurt.

The blast occurred on a road between the main intelligence office in the southern city of Kandahar and a compound used by the provincial government council. The council is led by Ahmad Wali Karzai, a brother of President Hamid Karzai.

Wali Karzai said the force of the blast smashed windows in the compound, wounding some people inside.

"Half of the building has been destroyed," Wali Karzai told Reuters by telephone.

Violence in Afghanistan has reached its worst level this year since the Taliban were ousted by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001. A resurgent Taliban have stepped up attacks against Karzai's U.S.-backed government and foreign forces.

Kandahar governor Rahmatullah Rawufi said six people, two of them members of the intelligence agency, were killed and 42 wounded. Many of the wounded were civilians, he said.

He told reporters in Kandahar that the bomber had detonated explosives packed into a truck.

Security forces cordoned off the area after the attack, residents said by telephone.

Acid Thrown On Girls

Hours before the blast, attackers threw acid on a group of girls outside their school in Kandahar, the Afghan government said in a statement.

It said the schoolgirls had their head scarves removed by the unidentified attackers before the acid was thrown. Rawufi said five girls were hurt and had been taken to hospital but there was no more information about their condition.

The Taliban had banned girls from receiving educations while it was in power under its strict interpretation of Islam.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for either of the attacks in Kandahar.

The Taliban have claimed many suicide bomb attacks in the past as part of their campaign to drive out foreign forces and topple Karzai's Western-backed central government.