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New Violence Grips Afghanistan as German Leader Visits

In a picture provided by the press department of German Government, German soldiers show off an 'Afghan fridge' made of mud and straw to keep grapes fresh to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Kunduz, Afghanistan, 18 Dec 2010

New violence raged across Afghanistan Saturday, taking the life of at least one child and a Bangladeshi engineer.

NATO officials say one child died and 11 other children were wounded in the country's southern Kandahar province when a car blew up. Afghan officials blamed the blast on a suicide bomber, and said the intended target was the district's chief.

The chief was unhurt but officials say another adult was killed.

Meanwhile, police in northern Afghanistan said one Bangladeshi engineer was killed when gunmen attacked a road construction project in Balkh province. They said at least two other workers were taken hostage.

NATO officials also reported the death of two troops. They said one died in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan while the other died in a bombing in the south of the country,

The latest violence came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an unannounced trip to the country, visiting German troops in northern Kunduz province.

Ms. Merkel also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and General David Petraeus, the top commander of both U.S. and NATO forces

Germany has some 4,700 soldiers serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Ms. Merkel thanked the German troops, saying they were the first generation of Germans to take part in what she called real combat since World War Two.

The German chancellor was accompanied by German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Germany has announced it would start pulling its troops out of Afghanistan next year.

On Friday, NATO forces repelled an attack on a checkpoint in Kapisa province, killing at least five insurgents in an hours-long battle.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.