Suicide car bomber kills 5 police in Afghanistan

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A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives outside a district police headquarters in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing five policemen, a government official said.

The attack in Kandahar province's Argistan district also wounded six policemen, said Javid Faisal, the provincial governor's spokesman.

Kandahar is the spiritual heartland of the Taliban and has been one of the most heavily contested areas between the militants and Afghan and foreign forces. The U.S. poured tens of thousands of additional troops into Kandahar and other areas of the south in 2009 and 2010 to reverse the Taliban's momentum. While violence has fallen in some areas, attacks still occur frequently.

Also Thursday, a homemade bomb killed a member of the U.S.-led NATO force in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said, without providing further details.

The death raised the number of coalition troops who have died in Afghanistan this year to 176.

The persistent violence poses a challenge for the U.S. as it seeks to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan forces and withdraw most of its combat troops by 2014.

A pair of attacks killed five policemen Thursday in eastern Afghanistan, also a key base for the Taliban and their allies.

In one attack, in Kunduz province's Dashti Archi district, a roadside bomb struck a vehicle carrying the head of the district's anti-terrorism police force, killing him along with a colleague and a police bodyguard, said district chief Shaik Sadaruddin.

A grenade tossed at a police checkpoint in Jalalabad city, capital of Nangarhar province, killed two policemen, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdullah Azim Stanikzai.