The blast went off at a parking lot outside the police building in Kandahar, said Faisal Ahmad, a spokesman for the provincial government. Five police officers and two civilians were killed, and least 21 people were wounded, he added.
The blast was large enough that it shattered windows in nearby buildings. It appeared the bomb was in a parked vehicle and was remotely detonated, said Zalmai Ayubi, another government spokesman.
NATO forces helped secure the area as Afghan police carried the wounded to ambulances and loaded the bodies of the dead into the back of a pickup truck. The street outside the building was spattered with blood. A hawker’s sheet of cardboard loaded with sunglasses lay abandoned in the road surrounded by charred debris.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Although the international military coalition in Afghanistan has poured resources into Kandahar city and its vicinity in recent years as part of a push to take back insurgent strongholds, the area has remained dangerous, and there have been repeated attacks against government installations.
The United Nations reported on Saturday that 2011 was the deadliest on record for civilians in the Afghan war, with 3,021 killed as insurgents ratcheted up violence with suicide attacks and roadside bombs. Civilian deaths from military or other pro-government forces decreased slightly.
He added that international forces “will continue to do all we can to reduce casualties that affect the Afghan civilian population.”
In the north, meanwhile, Afghan police said that an American soldier shot and killed an Afghan guard at a U.S. base, apparently because the American thought the guard was about to attack him.
There have been a growing number of attacks by Afghan soldiers against international forces in Afghanistan in recent years, some the result of arguments and others by insurgent infiltrators. Last month, an Afghan soldier shot and killed four unarmed French troops last month at a base in eastern Afghanistan.
Afghans guard the outside perimeter of the base, and Americans guard inside. Mr. Jahangir said the Afghan guard — a man named Abdul Rahim — wanted to go into the base and started arguing with the American at the door. The Afghan did not raise his weapon, but the American thought he was about to do so and fired, Mr. Jahangir said.
U.S. forces were “aware of an incident in northern Afghanistan” and were investigating, said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a U.S. military spokesman. He declined to provide further details.
By John Solomon
How the government's punishing of the exposure of official wrongdoing can linger for years
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
A collection of reader guest articles, thoughts and opinions by Communities writers and breaking news and information.
A mother of three and a passionate conservative, Shirley Husar changes the game.
This column will cover anything that has anything remotely to do with the game of baseball, from the game itself to mid-summer trades to offseason moves.
Eye on Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention