KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) _ A suicide bomber killed two Americans and five Afghans Wednesday outside a security contractor's southern Afghan compound, officials and witnesses said.
The bomber struck as the victims exited the Kandahar offices of the Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations security company, said Rohullah Khan, a company official. Three other people were wounded, he said.
The blast, the sixth suicide attack in Kandahar province in nine days, went off opposite the offices of the Canadian Provincial Reconstruction Team, a military team charged with rebuilding efforts in the area.
Provincial police chief Asmatullah Alizai said two foreigners, four Afghan policemen and a translator were killed.
USPI employee Mohammad Aszal said the two foreign victims were American.
Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who claims to be a spokesman for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, contacted The Associated Press and said the militant group was responsible for the attack. Ahmadi's exact ties to the militants are not known.
Near-daily attacks plague Afghanistan's lawless southern provinces _ the former stronghold of the hardline Taliban regime, where the central government wields little power.
Taliban militants have carried out a record number of suicide and roadside bombings this year. A growing insurgency, especially in the country's south and east, has left close to 4,000 people dead.
Despite the spike in suicide bombings in the past nine days, NATO said Wednesday that the overall number of coordinated insurgency attacks across the country is decreasing.
The number of major attacks in November was 449, a drop of nearly 50 percent compared to 869 in September, said Brig. Richard Nugee, the chief NATO spokesman in Afghanistan.
As the number of attacks on NATO and Afghan troops decreased, militants have resorted to suicide bomb attacks, Nugee told a news conference in Kabul.
``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.
Afghanistan's intelligence agency announced the arrest last week in the eastern city of Jalalabad of a man who was wearing an explosives-packed vest and belt and allegedly confessed that he had crossed the border from Pakistan to carry out a suicide attack. He said that his family would have been paid about $20,000 for his suicide attack and he was hired by a cleric from a religious school in Pakistan, the agency said.
Afghan and some Western officials have long accused Pakistan of not doing enough to prevent insurgents from being trained on its soil and then crossing the border to attack in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies the charge and says it does all that it can.