Suicide car bomber strikes NATO convoy, wounding two soldiers in Afghanistan

Thursday, November 2, 2006


The Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- A suicide car bomber struck a NATO convoy Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, wounding two soldiers and damaging a vehicle, while a NATO air strike killed three suspected insurgents in the east.

British Gen. David Richards, NATO's top commander in Afghanistan, said that he doesn't have enough forces to defeat the Taliban within the next six months, but they can still make "sufficient improvements" to keep Afghans confident in the government and international community.

Richards said last month that Afghans would likely switch their allegiance to resurgent Taliban militants if their lives showed no visible improvements in the next six months.

Maj. Luke Knittig, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman, said NATO's mission was a long-term effort.

"We're not after instant victories here," Knittig said at a news conference in Kabul. But he said Richards "absolutely has enough in a countrywide command now to continue to provide tangible results and progress."

U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley, meanwhile, arrived in Afghanistan on Wednesday after wrapping up two days of meetings in Iraq.

Hadley traveled to Kabul for meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and senior military leaders, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

The suicide car bombing occurred in the southern city of Kandahar. The nationalities of the two wounded soldiers were not released.

Afghanistan has seen a sharp rise in violence the last several months, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces near the border with Pakistan. Militants have been increasingly using roadside and suicide bombs in their attacks against Western and Afghan security forces.

Three suspected insurgents were killed and two were wounded in the eastern province of Khost after Afghanistan's intelligence service received a tip that several suspects had gathered in a house, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammed Ayub said.

Afghan security forces and NATO troops engaged the suspects in a gunbattle, then called in an airstrike that killed three and wounded two, Ayub said. Two women in a house next door were injured; they were in good condition at a hospital.

The Interior Ministry also said police in Kandahar had arrested a militant suspect in the murder of Safia Ana Jan, the head of Ministry of Women's Affairs in Kandahar province, who was shot to death last month.

Police said the suspect, arrested Tuesday, confessed to the crime, saying he had been promised a payment of $4,000 for the killing by the Hezb-e-Islami group of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said.

Associated Press reporter Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.

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