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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 June 2006, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Nato promises new Afghan tactics
Lt Gen David Richards
We cannot go on alienating the people in the way that I know is happening
Lt Gen David Richards
The Nato commander in Afghanistan has pledged to use new tactics to win over the support of disenchanted Afghans.

Lt Gen David Richards said Nato soldiers would be a "people-friendly force" when they take over security in the south from US forces in July.

He said troops would "accept more risk" when driving, to prevent a repetition of rioting in Kabul last week after a US road accident killed several people.

Meanwhile, UK troops say they have killed five suspected Taleban fighters.

A British military spokesman said there had been an "intense battle" after UK troops had come under fire in a village in north-western Helmand province.

There were no UK casualties, the British army said and two suspected Taleban fighters had been taken into custody.

Earlier the Taleban said they carried out a suicide attack in Kandahar city.

The attack left four civilians dead.

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The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says that for the last four years many people in southern and eastern Afghanistan have been complaining of aggressive tactics used by American troops.

These have included house-to-house searches in which doors are broken down and male soldiers searching Afghan women.

There has also been widespread anger over a number of bombing operations in which civilians have been killed.

'People focused'

"We will be a very people focused and a very people-friendly force," Lt Gen Richards said at a news conference in Kabul.

Police inspect the wreckage of the attacker's car
Police inspect the wreckage of Sunday's attack in Kandahar
"I will use military power not necessarily just to defeat the Taleban but just as importantly to secure the future of their villages and their localities."

The British commander also referred to last Monday's fatal rioting in Kabul that began after a US military vehicle crashed into a number of cars, killing several people.

He said there were too many people among the US-led forces, the Nato forces and others in the international community who "drive too quickly and in an inconsiderate way".

He said: "We are all determined to improve that so the people here don't look on us as people who don't care about the Afghans."

Convoy rammed

Earlier on Sunday a suicide bomber killed four civilians and injured 13 in the southern city of Kandahar.

The attacker rammed into a convoy of Canadian troops, a BBC journalist with the troops says.

Earlier reports had said the target of the attack was the governor of Kandahar province, Assadullah Khalid, who was travelling close by.

Mr Khalid and the Canadian troops were unhurt. The Taleban say they were behind the attack.

Reports from the scene say the mangled body of the suicide bomber was visible in the charred wreckage of the black vehicle.

The BBC's Paul Wood, who was on one of the vehicles in the convoy of Canadian troops, says the vehicle used by the attacker was driven at speed at the Canadian convoy from a side road in the centre of the city.

It exploded between the last two vehicles of the convoy.

The blast was deflected by the armour of Canadian vehicles into the nearby crowds.

The explosion shattered the windows of several shops, with one said to have been destroyed.

The number of suicide attacks recorded in Afghanistan has shot up since the US-led invasion which toppled the Taleban in late 2001.

There were five recorded suicide attacks in 2004, 17 in 2005, and 2006 has already seen 21 such attacks.

About 900 people have been killed in the Afghan insurgency since the beginning of this year, with half of that total dying in May.

In another incident, the director of health in the province of Paktika, Edi Mohammad, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he was leaving his home on Saturday.

Our correspondent says the Taleban and al-Qaeda-led militants are targeting prominent public figures, such as doctors and religious leaders, to try to weaken support for the government in rural areas.


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The BBC's Paul Wood describes an attack on his convoy



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