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Car bomb kills seven in southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A car bomb exploded Sunday near the police headquarters of the southern city of Kandahar, killing seven people and wounding at least 19, provincial officials said.

Five Afghan police officers and two civilians, including a child, were among the dead, said Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the Kandahar governor.

He said the blast occurred on a busy street where police officers and civilians park their cars.

"The car with explosives was parked in this street and was detonated by remote control," said Faisal.

Daud Farhad, director of Kandahar's Mirwais hospital, put the number of injured at 22, including six police officers. He said three of the police officers and four civilians were in a critical condition.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Afghan President Hamid Karzai attributed it in a statement to the "enemies of the people of Afghanistan."

U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, said Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar was unwilling or unable to stop Taliban insurgents from victimizing Afghans, "otherwise he would enforce his own alleged 'orders' to reduce civilian casualties."

The U.S.-led coalition has made huge efforts in the past two years to stabilize the security situation in Kandahar and surrounding areas in Afghanistan's restive south, a traditional Taliban stronghold.

However, despite some progress with security there are still regular attacks on officials and government buildings in Kandahar.

The number of civilian casualties in the Afghanistan conflict reached record levels last year, according to a U.N. report released Saturday. The report said more than 3,000 civilians were killed in 2011 — up 8 percent from 2010.

The report said "anti-government elements" — shorthand for the Taliban and other insurgent groups — were responsible for 77 percent of the deaths.

"Anti-Government Elements used improvised explosive devices more frequently and more widely across the country, conducted deadlier suicide attacks yielding greater numbers of victims, and increased the unlawful and targeted killing of civilians," the report said.

A Taliban statement on Sunday said that the United Nations had consistently tried to cover up "the inhumane actions of the actual perpetrators of the ongoing Afghan war" — the U.S.-led international forces — "and to give legality, in one form or another, to all their crimes."

The statement did not directly address the U.N. report's claims about civilian deaths caused by Taliban operations.

But it said the report downplayed the number of civilian deaths caused by coalition operations, especially "the night raids of the invaders."

The U.N. was biased, the Taliban said, "so much so that some of your policies directly follow those of the White House."

(Safi is a McClatchy special correspondent.)


The U.N. report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan


Taliban responsible for 77% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, U.N. says

Afghan soldier forged papers, deserted army before killing French troops

White House scrambles to ease fallout from Panetta's Afghanistan comments

French decision to accelerate exit causes some Afghans to question

U.S. combat in Afghanistan will end next year, Panetta says

For more coverage visit McClatchy's Afghanistan and Pakistan page.

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