Page last updated at 20:19 GMT, Saturday, 27 December 2008

Afghan police die in suicide bomb

An Afghan policeman guards the scene of the bomb attack outside Kandahar on 27 December
The attack happened on a highway

Five people have been killed by a suicide bomb attack on a military patrol on the outskirts of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, officials say.

The bomber blew up a minibus he was driving when he was stopped by police on a road linking Kandahar to Herat, an Afghan security official told the BBC.

Three police and two civilians were killed and others were injured.

In the capital Kabul, a rocket fired near the police academy hit a house, killing three teenage girls.

Taleban rebels have stepped up attacks on Afghan and foreign troops this year.

'Flagged down'

There were conflicting accounts of the circumstances surrounding the bombing near Kandahar but a senior Afghan security official told the BBC that police had been following the minibus and signalled for it to stop.

BBC map

"As soon as our police forces started searching, the attacker blew himself up," he said, describing the attack as "the work of the enemies of peace and stability".

Reports said four police were also injured in the attack, which took place on a road regularly targeted by the Taleban.

Canadian troops were nearby at the time and helped to evacuate the injured.

Afghan police are regularly targeted and killed by rebels.

According to Afghanistan's interior ministry, more than 700 police officers were killed in the first six months of 2008.

The majority of the casualties died in suicide attacks and roadside bombings.

Three sisters killed

On Saturday evening, three rockets were fired in Kabul in what correspondents say was an unusual attack.

A young man weeps outside a house hit by a rocket in Kabul on 27 December
Rocket attacks in Kabul are unusual

One rocket which exploded near the police academy hit a mud-brick house, killing three sisters aged 13, 15 and 16, their cousin, Sayed Shah Barat, told the Associated Press news agency.

After the attack, men swept up the shattered mud bricks while women mourned out loud in a surviving room.

"There are 40 countries in Afghanistan and still we are hit by rockets - what is the benefit?" Mr Barat asked, referring to the international peacekeeping force.

"The Iraqi people hit [President George W] Bush with their shoes but we should do the same with our leaders."

Another rocket exploded close to to the Spin Kalay high school in the Khushal Khan area, injuring four people, senior Afghan security officials told the BBC.

The officials blamed the rocket attacks on the Taleban.

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