ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN, AND KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — A suicide bomber killed at least one person and injured five Monday at a customs house in Kandahar, the third suicide attack in 10 days in the volatile southern city regarded as the Taliban's spiritual birthplace.
The target may have been a group of NATO soldiers who were at or near the building at the time of the blast, Afghan officials said. A NATO spokesman said two of its soldiers, both Americans, were injured. No other details were immediately available.
Although the North Atlantic Treaty Organization says it has been making major gains in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, the Taliban heartland, insurgents have been able to strike back with attacks such as Monday's and one Jan. 29 that killed Kandahar's deputy governor. On Friday, two people were injured in a suicide car bombing at the home of Kandahar's police chief. The chief, Khan Mohammad Mujahid, who was at home, was not hurt.
In early January, a suicide bombing at a public bathhouse in the border town of Spin Buldak in Kandahar province killed 17 people, including a senior officer in the border police.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday's attack, as well as for the assassination of a government official in Khowst province. The official, acting Bak district chief Sayed Mohammad, was driving to his office Monday morning when gunmen shot him, said a provincial spokesman.
In Helmand province, NATO officials said a child was accidentally killed in an airstrike on a suspected insurgent compound in the Nad Ali district. The incident comes four days after NATO began investigating the deaths of two Afghan civilians who were killed by alliance soldiers who had come under attack in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand. The troops fired at a van they believed was involved in the attack
Civilian casualties attributed to the conflict, now in its 10th year, continue to rise. According to the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, a Kabul-based group, 2,421 Afghan civilians were killed in 2010, compared with 2,332 in 2009.
U.S. and NATO troops were blamed for 21% of civilian deaths in 2010, according to the group, while insurgent bombings and attacks accounted for 63%. Afghan soldiers and police were responsible for 12% of the civilian deaths, while the source of the remaining 4% could not be determined.
Baktash is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Aimal Yaqubi in Kabul contributed to this report.