A suicide bombing outside an American security company in southern Afghanistan has killed five Afghans and two Americans. Despite this and other recent attacks, NATO officials in the Afghan capital, Kabul, say the overall number of incidents targeting coalition and Afghan troops has plummeted in the past month. VOA's Benjamin Sand reports from Islamabad.
Witnesses in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar say the bomber approached the American compound on foot and then blew himself up as several men exited the heavily guarded enclosure.
The attack was the sixth suicide bombing in Kandahar province in the past nine days. There have been more than 100 suicide bombings this year in Afghanistan, a massive increase over the year before.
2006 has been the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces ousted the hard-line Islamist Taleban regime in 2001.
But NATO officials in Kabul insist the news is not all bad.
The chief NATO spokesman, Brigadier Richard Nugee, told reporters that in the last month the number of major attacks across Afghanistan has been dramatically decreased.
"We now have the figures for November; we have seen a reduction in significant acts from 869 in September to 449 in November, a reduction of just under 50 percent," he said.
The NATO spokesman says this means militants are increasingly dependent on suicide attacks as they try to avoid direct confrontations with coalition forces.
"And we would say, by using suicide bombs they are being forced into a desperate tactic, which in the long run will work against them because the people of Afghanistan will go against them," he said.
Nugee says the attacks are having little impact on NATO forces, but are doing "significant damage" to local communities.
Nugee said suicide bombers have killed 17 foreign troops, but more than 200 Afghans since the beginning of January, adding that NATO troops have provided emergency medical care to at least 500 civilians in the last few months following suicide attacks.
Nugee said that even suicide attacks are - overall - on the decline.
Nugee also said NATO and Afghan forces have been making a concerted effort to crack down on extremist groups coordinating such attacks and using information provided by local communities have eliminated at least seven so-called "suicide cells" in the last few months.