|Page (1) of 1 - 07/31/11||email article||print page|
Suicide bomber strikes police headquarters in southern Afghan city, killing 5 officers
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) ' A suicide bomber struck Sunday at the gate of the police headquarters of the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah, killing guards and blasting through a wall of the station compound in a city where Afghans have recently taken control of security.
At least five officers were killed and 12 people wounded in the blast in Lashkar Gah, said Helmand provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi. He said police guarding the gate received the brunt of the blast, but three civilians were among the wounded, including a 10-year-old boy. A wall of the compound also collapsed in the explosion and it was unclear if anyone was trapped underneath, Ahmadi said.
People at the site said they saw a police vehicle on fire at the gate. Ahmadi said a suicide bomber apparently drove a car between two police vehicles at the entrance and then set detonated the explosives.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi claimed responsibility for the attack.
It has been less than two weeks since Lashkar Gah was formally handed over to Afghan control in the first stage of a plan to have all of Afghanistan under the oversight of Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. It is the capital city of a province that has been a stronghold for the insurgency and where U.S. Marines have surged in over the past year to try to turn back the Taliban.
The attack comes as Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours Afghanistan for a second day. He has been meeting with military commanders and troops in the south, a region that has been rocked by violence and suicide attacks in recent weeks. Mullen visited a base outside the southern city of Kandahar on Sunday morning.
In the east, meanwhile, an international service member was killed in a pre-dawn bomb attack, according to a NATO forces statement.
The statement did not provide further details on Sunday's attack, nor the nationality of the dead.
At least 48 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan in July, including the latest death.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Kabul, Afghanistan.