A suicide bomber blew himself up today near an armored car carrying a district chief in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing two civilians, including a child, and wounding nine others.
A suicide bomber blew himself up today near an armored car carrying a district chief in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing two civilians, including a child, and wounding nine others, Afghan authorities said.
The bomber targeted Ahmadullah Nazak's car in a residential and shopping area of the city as the official was travelling to a meeting, said Zalmai Ayubi, spokesperson for the Kandahar provincial governor. Nazak was unharmed.
"I am safe and sound, and all of those who were in the car are also safe and sound," Nazak told The Associated Press shortly after the explosion. He did not say how many people had been in the car with him.
Irfan Hameed, a doctor at the local hospital, said the bodies of a man and a boy killed in the blast were taken to the hospital, which was also treating five men and four children wounded in the attack.
Violence has been on the rise across much of Afghanistan, with the southern provinces of Kandahar--the birthplace of the Taliban--and Helmand seeing much of the fighting. NATO forces have poured troops into both provinces.
Elsewhere, a NATO service member was killed today in an insurgent attack in the east of the country, the military coalition said, and German chancellor Angela Merkel made a surprise visit to her nation's troops in the north.
The alliance did not reveal the nationality of the service member or the location of the attack.
Another soldier died of a noncombat injury in the north of the country yesterday, NATO said. The German military said one of its soldiers, a 21-year-old, died of a gunshot wound that appeared to be the result of an accident at a military post in Baghlan Province, but the matter was being investigated.
More than 670 US and other international troops have died in Afghanistan so far this year.
Germany currently has nearly 4,700 troops serving in Afghanistan and plans to start gradually withdrawing in late 2011.
Merkel visited Kunduz, where her nation's troops have a base. In Berlin, the German government said Merkel traveled with her defense minister and the military's chief of staff.
The German Parliament is expected to vote in January on renewing authorisation for the nation's military mission in Afghanistan. The current parliamentary mandate allows for a maximum deployment of 5,350 German soldiers.
Foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said on Thursday that Germany is defending its own security in Afghanistan.
"That is why this mission is right, but it is also right that it cannot go on forever," he said.
Separately, NATO said today it had killed a senior Taliban leader in an airstrike in Badghis province in northern Afghanistan the previous day.
The military coalition said in a statement that the Taliban leader, Mullah Tor Jan, had been appointed by the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban command council based in Pakistan. The airstrike that killed him followed a firefight that broke out as Afghan and international forces pursued "an armed individual" to a cave complex, the coalition said.
Badghis deputy chief of police, Abdul Jabar Khan, said Tor Jan was a senior Taliban commander responsible for planting mines along routes used by Afghan and international forces and for organising attacks on police stations.