KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A homicide bomber blew up a room full of policemen eating lunch at a southern Afghan checkpoint Thursday, killing 10 officers and wounding 11, while a roadside bomb in the east killed a NATO soldier, authorities said.
In the west, kidnappers released a German man and his translator, hours after demanding $40,000 for their freedom, officials said.
The latest violence brought to over 3,000 the number of people — mostly militants — killed in insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan this year, according to an Associated Press tally of numbers provided by Western and Afghan officials.
The homicide attack occurred near Spin Boldak, a town in the southern province of Kandahar near the Pakistan border. The blast killed 10 policemen, wounded 11 and destroyed two rooms, said Sayeed Agha Saqib, the provincial police chief. Spin Boldak's district police chief was among the wounded.
Homicide attacks have become a prime tactic of Taliban militants, who have dramatically stepped up their violent campaign against the government of President Hamid Karzai and its Western backers.
Militants deployed a roadside bomb against NATO-led forces in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, leaving one soldier dead and wounding two others, the alliance said.
The wounded soldiers were taken to a medical facility for treatment and were in stable condition, NATO said in an e-mailed statement. It did not release the soldiers' nationalities. Most foreign troops in the east are American.
The blast raised the number of foreign soldiers killed this year to at least 103.
In the western province of Farah, kidnappers released a German man, believed to work for a company that builds roads, and his translator, after making the ransom demand, officials said. It was not immediately clear if any money had changed hands.
The two men were freed a week after being seized in western Afghanistan, said Zemrai Bashary, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.
In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the two were in the care of NATO-led troops and were on their way to Kabul, where the German ambassador awaited them.
"I am very glad that this kidnapping came to such a quick end," Steinmeier said. He did not offer details of how the two were freed, but credited Afghan authorities and NATO troops — "and in particular the British units, who were very helpful."
Farah Governor Muhaidin Baluch said the pair, whose names have not been released, were kidnapped in the province's Bakwa district.
"Afghanistan's government is not ready to do any deal with the kidnappers," Baluch said. "If the Germans themselves want to have a deal, this is none of our business."
Afghanistan's government is reluctant to be seen negotiating with kidnappers, following a much-criticized prisoner swap in March.
Militants released Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo after the government freed five captured Taliban fighters. However, the militants killed Mastrogiacomo's translator and driver, drawing accusations that the government had worried more about the Italian than the two Afghans.