KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A suspected Taliban (search) militant detonated explosives strapped to himself, killing a former militia commander and two others Monday in a southern Afghan city, while a second homicide bomber was thwarted when he blew himself up as he fled police.
Firefights in the country's east, meanwhile, killed a U.S. soldier and wounded three others, while an American special forces chopper was destroyed by fire as it made a hard landing during an offensive. All aboard escaped unhurt.
The violence came amid a reinvigorated insurgency by Taliban-led rebels that has killed more than 1,300 people in the past half year and highlighted the threat still facing Afghanistan as it slowly moves toward democracy.
The two homicide bombings brought the number of such assaults in the past two weeks to five — four of them in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar (search). Homicide attacks have been far less frequent here than in Iraq, although Afghan officials have warned of plots to mimic the tactics of militants in the Mideast.
The first homicide bomber Monday struck outside the Kandahar home of Agha Shah (search), a former militia commander who was allied with the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance (search), which swept the Taliban from power in late 2001, Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid said.
The blast killed Shah, a supporter of President Hamid Karzai (search), as well as two civilian passers-by and wounded eight people, the governor said.
Khalid said the bomber's head had been recovered and he appeared to be an Arab and was believed to be a Taliban member.
The second bombing came two hours later. Police received an intelligence report that an attacker was approaching a U.S. military base in the city. Afghan officers rushed to the area, prompting the assailant to run away before he detonated the explosives strapped to his body, Khalid said.
No one besides the bomber was hurt in the blast about a half mile from the U.S. base.
The bombings came a day after another suicide attack in Kandahar injured four British government officials. The deadliest homicide attack in the past two weeks was outside an army training center in the capital, Kabul, and killed nine people.
Meanwhile, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a small village in western Afghanistan, wounding 13 Afghans. The blast was believed to be an attempt to kill a winning candidate in last month's legislative elections, said local police chief Sufullah, who uses only one name.
The U.S. military released a statement about an attack Sunday on its troops conducting an offensive in eastern Paktika province that killed the U.S. soldier and wounded another.
The death brought to 201 the number of U.S. troops killed in and around Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces invaded in late 2001 to oust the Taliban for harboring Al Qaeda (search) leader Usama bin Laden (search).
In a second firefight, in eastern Kunar province, militants attacked a patrol, wounding two U.S. troops Monday, a separate military statement said.
Also in Kunar, a U.S. special forces Chinook (search) helicopter caught fire and was destroyed after an engine malfunctioned and it made a hard landing during an operation last Thursday, officials said. All onboard escaped unhurt.
The accident occurred in the same region where a similar MH-47 chopper was shot down in June, killing all 16 special forces troops on board, military spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Reardon said.
The latest crash was the fourth this year involving Chinooks, large troop-carrying helicopters that have proved essential in battling the insurgency in remote, largely inaccessible parts of Afghanistan.