KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed a car into a police vehicle Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, killing a district police chief, two other policemen and a civilian — the latest attack targeting those with links to the government or international forces.

The police chief of Daman district in Kandahar province where Afghan and NATO forces are ramping up security was among those killed in the incident on a bridge leading into Kandahar city, according to Dr. Mohammad Rasool at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar. Five other Afghan policemen and a civilian were wounded. The bridge, which recently was rebuilt, was the site of two bomb attacks against NATO forces in recent months.

In another targeted attack in the south, Taliban insurgents on Tuesday night broke into the home of Atta Jan Kajrwal, the Zabul province director of border and tribal affairs, killing him and his wife, said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the governor. Another person was injured in the attack in Shahjoy district.

Violence is on the rise, especially in the south, as Afghan and international forces push into areas controlled by the Taliban. It's part of a strategy to rout insurgents from their southern strongholds and provide security for the population to allow Afghan officials to bolster governance.

NATO reported Wednesday that a senior Taliban commander was among several insurgents detained Monday in Naway-e-Barakzayi district of Helmand province. The commander, who was not identified, directed military operations and handled governance issues in Taliban-controlled areas of the district, the coalition said.

Also in Helmand, a joint coalition-Afghan force raided a compound used by the Taliban as a prison, freeing 27 Afghan civilians who were shackled and held captive, an official said. Thirteen Taliban fighters were killed in the raid Tuesday in the Musa Qala district, provincial spokesman Dawood Ahmadi said Wednesday. Five captives had been slain before the force arrived, he said.

In the east, hundreds of demonstrators blocked a main highway between Kabul and the eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday to protest two deaths in a night raid. The protesters said the two men killed were innocent civilians, while NATO said its forces killed two insurgents.

Ghafor Khan, chief of the district of Surkh Rod, said a father and his son were killed and three others were wounded in the Tuesday night operation. He said police were trying to control the crowd to keep the demonstration peaceful.

In a separate incident, NATO said a civilian irrigating a field in the Arghandab district of Kandahar province was killed Tuesday during a fire fight.

The coalition said the civilian was shot and killed when a joint force being attacked by insurgents returned fire. Coalition forces planned to meet with local elders about the shooting, which remains under investigation.

Also in Kandahar, NATO said a joint force killed 10 insurgents Tuesday while pursuing a Taliban commander responsible for arranging weapons deliveries. Six insurgents who ran from a compound in Panjwai district were killed in an air strike and four others were killed by ground forces.

The joint force destroyed a weapons cache inside the compound, including bomb-making equipment, grenades and mortar, artillery and anti-aircraft machine gun rounds, the coalition said.


Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.