A roadside bomb targeting the car of a district police chief killed three police officers Thursday in southern Afghanistan, where militants have stepped up attacks on government workers in response to increased pressure from international troops.
Provincial government spokesman Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar said the police chief was not in the vehicle when it was hit by the blast in the Shinkai district of Zabul province.
Also Thursday, militants shot and killed a government official in charge of the water supply in Dand district of Kandahar province as he was walking near his home, district chief Ahmadullah Nazak said.
Afghan and coalition forces are in the third phase of an operation in and around the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the operation _ designed to destabilize Taliban strongholds and increase security, paving the way for improved governance and long-term development _ was nearly over.
"We are clearing the area of the enemy," Azimi said. "We are hopeful that in the coming weeks, the operation will come to an end. It is very difficult to say exactly when."
A NATO service member also died Thursday following a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said. NATO did not provide details of the death or the service member's nationality. So far this month, 59 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan, according to a count by The Associated Press.
On Wednesday night, the coalition detained more than 10 suspected insurgents during an operation in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province in search of the suspected Taliban shadow governor for the area.
As a joint Afghan and coalition force entered a compound, militants _ some armed and wearing masks _ attempted to escape in a vehicle, NATO said. Coalition forces seized some 500 pounds of marijuana, bomb-making materials, automatic weapons, grenades, rocket-propelled grenade boosters and ammunition.
In eastern Afghanistan, a NATO airstrike killed one insurgent believed to be a senior leader of the Haqqani network, a faction of the Taliban with ties to al-Qaida. NATO said coalition forces tracked the militant to a remote area of Nadir Shah Kot district of Khost province.
In neighboring Mando Zayi district of Khost, one civilian was killed and two others were wounded in fighting Thursday morning, according to Gen. Raz Mohammad Oryakhail, an Afghan National Army commander in the province.
Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.