Bomb attack on Afghan police chief

KABUL: An Afghan police chief survived a suicide car bomb attack on his convoy that wounded three officers early on Monday, officials said. It was the latest apparent attempt on a commander’s life in an intense Taliban assassination campaign.

Broken glass and the charred remains of the bomber’s car were strewn in a main road in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah after the attack.

Helmand provincial Police Chief Mohammad Nabi Elham sustained only minor injuries when the car bomber struck as he was on his way to his office at about 7 am.

The force of the blast tore off the door of Elham’s vehicle. Three police officers travelling in the convoy were wounded, provincial spokesman Ummar Zawaq said.

”Thanks be to God that it was so early in the morning,” Elham said later in an interview. ”If it had been 8 or 9 in the morning, there would have been labourers here who are building a road for a mosque. Shopkeepers would have been here, and how many people might have been killed?”

Taliban insurgents have been targeting police and civilian officials and attacking government positions around the country as Afghan police and army prepare to officially take over full responsibility for security from international troops.

The toll on Afghan forces has been high, more than doubling from last year’s spring and summer fighting season. In May alone, at least 271 police were killed in attacks, and total deaths for all security forces including the army and community-based forces known as the local police was 400 for the month.

At the same time, casualties among the US-led military coalition have been reducing as the international forces pull back to let the Afghans take the lead. In May, 21 Nato troops were killed in the country, down from 44 during the same month last year.

The coalition said that one of its service members died in a non-battle-related incident in southern Afghanistan on Sunday but released no further details. The death brings June’s toll for international troops to 20.