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Afghanistan violence kills NATO force member, 11 others

The attacks in Afghanistan target mostly Afghan police officers.

June 01, 2012|By Aimal Yaqubi and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — A member of the NATO force was killed in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, and attacks on police in several provinces left at least 11 Afghan law enforcement officers dead.

The latest violence comes as local Afghan forces assume greater responsibility for security in advance of a planned pullout of NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.

A NATO coalition spokeswoman said the coalition member's death was caused by a roadside bomb. In keeping with policy, she said, any additional information would be provided by officials of the victim's home country, which was not immediately given.

Ahmad Jawed Faisal, a spokesman in the Kandahar governor's office, said five policemen were killed and six policemen and six civilians were wounded in that southern province Thursday morning when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of a district police headquarters.

Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, is among the most heavily contested areas as militants and Afghan and foreign forces battle for control.

Ahmadzia Abdulzai, a spokesman in the governor's office of eastern Nangarhar province, said a bomb detonated at a police checkpoint on the Jalalabad-Torkham highway killed two policemen.

And in northern Kunduz province, a roadside bomb reportedly struck a vehicle carrying the head of a district anti-terrorism police force, killing him and three other policemen.

In an email, the Taliban claimed responsibility for all three attacks.

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan fell 21% in the first four months of the year compared with the same period of 2011, the first time since record-keeping began in 2007 that the death toll has declined over a several-month period, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement Thursday. Despite the recent improvement, 2011 was the fifth consecutive year that civilian casualties increased, with 3,021 deaths reported.

Roadside bombs planted by antigovernment forces remain the biggest civilian killer, the United Nations said, and despite improvements, it continues to document human rights abuses by local police.

According to U.N. figures, 579 civilians were killed in Afghanistan during the first four months of 2012, while the number of wounded fell to 1,216. The Taliban and its allies were responsible for 79% of civilian casualties, the U.N. said. Afghan and foreign forces accounted for 9%, with the remainder unattributed.

Jan Kubis, the U.N.'s special representative to Afghanistan, told reporters Wednesday that he believed the $4.1 billion required annually to support and continue training Afghan security forces after 2014 "will be reached and is achievable," according to the Associated Press. The Afghan government is to provide $500 million of the total budget.

There are 130,000 U.S.-led NATO troops fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced the death of Sakhr Taifi, Al Qaeda's second in command in Afghanistan.

Special correspondent Yaqubi reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Magnier from New Delhi.

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