A suspected Taliban guerrilla detonated explosives strapped to himself, killing a former militia commander and two others Monday in Kandahar, while a second suicide bomber was thwarted when Afghan police rushed to the scene. The bomber blew himself up as he fled.
A U.S. soldier was killed and three were wounded in firefights in the east, while a U.S. Special Forces helicopter was destroyed by fire as it made a hard landing during an offensive. All aboard escaped unhurt.
A reinvigorated insurgency by Taliban-led rebels has killed more than 1,300 people since spring and highlighted the threat still facing Afghanistan as it moves slowly toward democracy.
The two suicide bombings brought the number of such assaults in the past two weeks to five -- four of them in Kandahar, a southern city that is a former Taliban stronghold.
Kandahar Gov. Asadullah Khalid said the first suicide bomber Monday struck outside the home of Agha Shah, a former militia commander who was allied with the U.S.-backed Northern Alliance, which helped sweep the Taliban from power in late 2001.
The blast killed Shah, a supporter of President Hamid Karzai, as well as two civilian passersby, the governor said. Eight people were wounded.
Khalid said the bomber's head had been recovered. He appeared to be an Arab and was believed to be a Taliban member, the governor said.
The second bombing came two hours later. Police received an intelligence report that an attacker was approaching a U.S. military base in the city. Afghan officers rushed to the area, prompting the assailant to run away before detonating the explosives strapped to his body, Khalid said.
The bombings came a day after another suicide attack in Kandahar injured four British government officials.
Meanwhile, a remote-controlled bomb exploded in a small village in western Afghanistan, wounding 13 Afghans. The blast was believed to be an attempt to kill a winning candidate in last month's legislative elections, said the local police chief, Sufullah, who uses only one name.