KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A suicide car bomb struck outside the house of the police chief in southern Afghanistan's largest city Friday, wounding at least two people. It was the second attack on him this week.
Chief Khan Mohammad Mujahid was inside the house but wasn't hurt when the bomb went off. He said he believes the attack was aimed at him following efforts by his force and the NATO-led coalition to root out Taliban insurgents in areas surrounding Kandahar city.
"They want to scare the people from joining the government," Mujahid said.
U.S. and NATO officials have said they believe they are making progress in routing insurgents from Kandahar city and its environs since a surge of forces into the area this past summer. The recent spate of attacks on officials in the city serve as a reminder that the insurgents are still very much a force in their long-time stronghold.
The force of the blast blew through a compound wall surrounding the house, shattering windows and damaging parts of the building itself. It appeared to have destroyed a roof over the kitchen and a bathroom, and damaged cars parked nearby.
At least two women who were visiting the house were hurt, Mujahid said. A physician at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar, Dr. Irsan Khan, said two other people were wounded as well. Conflicting numbers of casualties are common in the immediate aftermath of explosions.
Mujahid was the apparent target of an assassination attempt on Tuesday, when a bomb exploded near his convoy. No one was hurt in that blast.
Kandahar, located in the Taliban's traditional southern stronghold, has been the scene of several attacks in recent weeks.
A suicide bomber killed the province's deputy governor and wounded three of his bodyguards last week by driving a motorcycle packed with explosives into the official's car. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.
Earlier in January, a bicycle bomb targeting police vehicles near the city center wounded at least 10 people. A suicide car bombing in the city center in December killed three people and wounded 26 others, most of them police.
The No. 2 American general for the Afghan war effort is concerned assassination attempts against Afghan officials in the south could increase.
Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez said earlier this week he believes that after a winter lull, the Taliban will bring on a new strategy in the spring that probably will include what he called assassination hit teams.
Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed to this report from Kabul.