U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan attempt new measures against suicide attacks

U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan are learning from tactics used in Iraq to improve their ability to avert suicide bombings as Taliban-led insurgents turn increasingly to those types of attacks, a U.S. military official said Monday. After the second suicide attack in eight days targeting U.S.-led forces in the southern city of Kandahar, spokesman Lt. Col. Laurent Fox said, "we will continue to look at other measures we can use to stop these bombings that they use to kill innocent civilians."

Fox cast a series of suicide attacks by militants in Afghanistan in recent months as a sign of weakness rather than strength, but he said the coalition forces are developing new measures to counter them, and turning to their colleagues in Iraq for tips.

"There are new measures that we will use and we continue to adapt. I will stress that we are sharing information with our forces in Iraq, where there are many attacks, and will continue to use that information to fight the problem here," he told a news conference. Fox would not describe any of the measures, citing the need for secrecy.

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a coalition convoy in Kandahar on Sunday, killing himself and wounding a passer-by, police in the former Taliban stronghold said. Fox said the attack occurred after the convoy had passed and that no coalition troops were injured.

A week earlier in Kandahar, a Canadian soldier in the U.S.-led coalition was slightly injured in a blast that killed the attacker and a civilian. A suicide car bombing in Kandahar in November, apparently targeting Westerners, killed three Afghan civilians. Two days before that, militants used twin suicide car bombs to attack NATO peacekeepers in the capital, Kabul. Authorities blamed al-Qaida for those blasts, which killed a German peacekeeper and eight Afghans.

Last month, Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak told The Associated Press that intelligence indicated a number of Arab members of al-Qaida and other foreigners had entered Afghanistan to launch suicide attacks, and cited similarities between attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After Sunday's bombing, Kandahar province deputy police chief Haji Abdul Hakim said the attacker appeared to be a foreigner, but Interior Ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanezai said his origin had not been established.

Fox said that the exact nature of ties between the Taliban and al-Qaida is unclear but that they appear to be sharing information. He said the coalition has no "specific intelligence" indicating Taliban militants have been returning from Iraq.

The suicide bombings are part of the a persistent insurgency that has produced the deadliest militant violence since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in 2001, when they refused to hand over al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden following the Sept. 11 attacks, reports the AP. I.L.

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