KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed three Afghan police officers and two civilians and wounded four in the southern province of Kandahar on Saturday, a senior police official said.
Violence has increased sharply this year in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban were toppled by U.S. and Afghan forces in 2001, sparking fear the country may slide back into anarchy despite increasing numbers of foreign troops.
The suicide bomber was on foot when he detonated the device next to a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Kandahar city, about 400 km (250 miles) southwest of the capital Kabul, near a highway connecting Kandahar to western Afghanistan.
The policemen were in a military vehicle near the checkpoint and the civilians were also inside a car on the highway when the suicide bomber struck, the police official said.
Separately, Afghan and U.S.-led forces killed six militants during a patrol in the Nahr Surkh district of Helmand province, about 530 km (330 miles) southwest of Kabul, on Thursday, U.S. military said.
Reporting by Ismail Sameem; Editing by Sami Aboudi