Bomb targets third Afghan politician in three days

KABUL Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:19pm EDT

1 of 2. An Afghan policeman stands guard near the bomb-damaged vehicle of the district chief of Khan Abad in Kunduz province July 16, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Wahdat

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KABUL (Reuters) - A magnetic bomb blew up the car of a district governor in Afghanistan's northerly city of Kunduz on Monday in the third attack on senior government officials in as many days.

The governor of Khan Abad district was not in the car, but the bomb killed a bodyguard and wounded eight civilians, police said.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber killed a top anti-Taliban lawmaker and 22 other people at a wedding reception in Samangan province, also in the north.

And on Sunday, Higher Education Minister Obaidullah Obaid survived a roadside bomb attack on his motorcade in the adjoining province of Baghlan.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its fiercest since U.S.-led Afghan troops overthrew the Taliban government in 2001, and as most foreign combat troops look to leave the country by the end of 2014, handing over to Afghan security forces.

Islamist Taliban and other insurgents have spread their reach from their traditional strongholds in southern and eastern areas of Afghanistan to northern parts of the country once considered relatively safe.

Also on Monday, two NATO soldiers died in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan, while a roadside bomb hit a van in the border town of Spin Boldak, in Kandahar province, killing five civilians, said Ahmad Faisal, the provincial governor's spokesman.

Insurgent attacks across Afghanistan have jumped 10 percent in three months as a severe winter damaged poppy crop harvests and caused fighter-farmers to pick up guns earlier than last year, said German Brigadier-General Gunter Katz, spokesman for NATO forces.

More Afghan soldiers and police were also confronting Taliban and other militants in more remote areas outside major cities which had previously been havens for insurgent fighters.

"We have more troops in the field today than in 2011. Those safe havens are no longer safe for the insurgents, so they push them harder and we fight more," Katz told journalists.

He said attacks for the year to date were actually at similar levels to the same period last year, despite high-profile attacks in Kabul in April and June that highlighted the continuing ability of militants to penetrate security lines.

(Reporting by Mohammad Hamed in Kunduz and Rob Taylor in Kabul, Writing by Rob Taylor and Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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