Ten policemen and a child were killed yesterday when a suicide car bomber struck outside police headquarters in the southern city of Lashkar Gah, local officials said.
The attack came days after control of security in the city, the capital of Helmand Province, was passed from British to Afghan forces as part of a process that will see all foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Some experts question the ability of Afghan soldiers and police to protect their country against attacks from the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the latest blast, and other insurgents.
Daud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand’s provincial governor, said 11 people had been killed and nine wounded.
“Among the dead there is one child and 10 others are policemen. Wounded are seven policemen and two civilians,” he said. “The explosives were placed in an SUV [sports utility vehicle].”
The blast happened at around 8:30am in front of the police headquarters as Afghan police left to go on a patrol, a statement from the governor’s office added.
The Taliban published a statement on their Web site claiming responsibility for the attack.
“A large number of policemen were gathered and a hero of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan struck and exploded his vehicle laden with explosives,” the statement said.
The attack came as an official said 10 Afghan security guards were killed in central Afghanistan on Saturday in an attack on a convoy carrying supplies to international troops.
The convoy was ambushed by insurgents in restive Ghazni Province, triggering an hour-long battle, the Ghazni governor’s spokesman Maroof Ayubi said.
The Taliban also claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Lashkar Gah blast comes amid ongoing concerns over the ability of the Afghan security forces, which are receiving huge sums of money from the international community in a bid to build them up.
The Afghan police and army are frequently targeted in attacks by the Taliban and other insurgents in a bid to undermine Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul.
The Helmand attack follows a spate of assassinations in southern Afghanistan in recent weeks, including that of the president’s powerful half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, in Kandahar Province.
Ahmed Wali Karzai was killed by his bodyguard earlier this month, while Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haidar Hameedi was assassinated last week by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban.