Accessibility links

Suicide Blast At Southern Afghan Police Station Kills 13

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taliban was responsible for the attack.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taliban was responsible for the attack.

Afghan authorities say a suicide car bomber who blew himself up at the gate of the police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern Helmand Province, killed up to 12 police officers and a child.

Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for Helmand's provincial governor, said 12 people were also injured by the blast -- which left a gaping hole in the station compound's wall.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the Taliban was responsible for the attack.

It has been less than two weeks since NATO-led forces formally handed over security responsibilities in Lashkar Gah to Afghan troops. It is the most volatile of seven areas in Afghanistan where handovers have begun.

Last week, coordinated suicide bombers in nearby Oruzgan Province killed 19 people.

There also has been an increase in assassinations of local officials who have strong ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government.

They include the former governor of Oruzgan, who was gunned down in his Kabul home, and Karzai's half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who was a powerful powerbroker in southern Afghanistan and the head of the Kandahar Provincial Council.

Security Concerns In South

The death of Ahmad Wali Karzai set off a power struggle in Kandahar and has raised doubts about the strength of the president's support in the area. It also has raised concerns about a growing power vacuum in Kandahar.

Kandahar is home to the Karzai clan, but it also is a stronghold for Taliban fighters and a hotbed of tribal rivalries over local influence and money.

On July 27, a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban also killed the mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Haydar Hamidi.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for all of those attacks, which come at a critical juncture in the nearly 10-year war against Taliban-led insurgents.

Last week, NATO handed over responsibility for security operations to Afghan forces in seven different parts of the country.

Thousands of U.S. surge troops are preparing to return home and other Western countries in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have announced limited withdrawals of their soldiers.

All foreign combat forces are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 -- provided security conditions on the ground allow their withdrawal.

Meanwhile, 10 Afghan guards working for a private security firm were reportedly killed on July 30 while escorting a convoy that was carrying supplies to foreign troops.

That attack took place in the restive central province of Ghazni.

compiled from agency reports