Blasts Target NATO Offices in Kabul

Two blasts rocked the Afghan capital Monday, with a rocket slamming into the headquarters of NATO's 8,000-member security force, damaging a building but causing no casualties, and a bomb exploding on a busy road, wounding seven civilians, officials said.

In southern Afghanistan, fighting between Afghan troops and suspected Taliban rebels left at least 10 insurgents and a soldier dead, a government spokesman said.

The rocket hit a military barracks at the International Security Assistance Force base in central Kabul, which is near the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions, said spokeswoman Lt. Col. Karen Tissot Van Patot.

The attack came shortly after midnight, and the sound of the blast reverberated around much of central Kabul (search), home to about 3,000 foreign aid workers, diplomats and others. Sirens wailed for about 30 minutes after the blast.

The second explosion, after dawn, was on a road near a U.S. military base and a U.N. compound. The bomb, detonated by a timer, was attached to a bicycle and exploded as a taxi drove past, police chief Gen. Mohammad Akbar said.

Four of the injured were in the taxi, while the three others were passers-by, he said. Two of the injured men were in serious condition, he said.

The clashes in southern Afghanistan broke out in Zabul province's Arghandab district after the rebels ambushed an army patrol, local government spokesman Ali Khail said.

He said 11 soldiers who were earlier reported missing had turned up after walking out of mountains in the area. Khail said that in addition to the 10 insurgents killed, three had been captured, including a district Taliban commander.

A district government chief had earlier said that two Afghan soldiers had been killed, but Khail said only one died.

U.S. forces rushed to the scene, but the rebels had already fled, the U.S. military said. It said two Afghan police officers were killed.

A purported Taliban (search) spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press and said two Taliban insurgents were also killed in a firefight that followed the ambush. He claimed 11 Afghan soldiers were killed, although this could not be verified.

Hakimi often calls news organizations to claim responsibility for attacks, often with information that proves exaggerated or untrue. His exact tie to the Taliban leadership is not clear.

After a winter lull, loyalists of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime and other militants opposed to President Hamid Karzai's (search) U.S.-backed government have ramped up their insurgency with a series of bombings and other attacks. U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan troops have hit back hard, killing nearly 200 suspected insurgents and capturing dozens since March.

Col. James Yonts, the U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan, said insurgents were increasingly attacking "soft targets" such as the United Nations, the international community and civilians, because the U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces were being more aggressive in their tactics.