Attacker Wounds Four in Afghanistan

A suicide attacker rammed a car laden with explosives into an armored vehicle carrying British government officials Sunday in southern Afghanistan, wounding four of them, a U.S.-led coalition commander said.

The four Britons were traveling in a Land Cruiser in Kandahar (search) city when the suicide bomber in a Toyota Corolla attacked, said Col. Steve Bowes, a Canadian commander with the coalition.

The bombing was the third attack in Afghanistan in two weeks. The deadliest was late last month when an attacker killed nine people as well as himself in a bombing outside an army training center in Kabul.

Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid (search) said the four wounded were customs officials from London touring the region, a former stronghold of the Taliban (search), ahead of the launch of a British government-sponsored project.

Two were in serious condition, while the other two were lightly wounded, Khalid said, adding that parts of the suicide bomber's body were strewn along the roadside.

The Britons' vehicle was burned in the attack. Canadian troops based in the city cordoned off the area and rushed the four to hospital.

The spate of attacks comes amid a major upsurge in violence across much of the country since March that has left more than 1,300 people dead.

On Saturday, the U.S. military announced its 200th service member to die in and around Afghanistan since the Taliban was ousted four years ago. This year has been the deadliest yet for the 19,000 American forces based here, with 84 soldiers killed.

Still, the burden of the fighting now shouldered by U.S. forces may soon decrease. An 11,000-soldier NATO-led peacekeeping force, already responsible for security in Afghanistan's north and west, is gearing up to expand next year into the volatile south and east.

The move will allow the separate coalition force to reduce its size and focus on hunting down Usama bin Laden (search) and his allies, thought to be hiding in rugged mountains in the region.