KABUL, Afghanistan -- In three separate attacks Thursday, suicide bombers targeted Afghan police and government officials, killing three Afghan police and injuring a half-dozen bystanders.
Taliban militants took responsibility for the attacks, claiming they killed scores of police and security forces.
President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the "terrorist attacks" in Paktia, Kabul and Kandahar provinces.
"Enemies of Afghanistan once again have shown that they carry out such un-Islamic and anti-Afghan attacks with outsiders' provocation and direction," Karzai said in a statement released late Thursday. "Such attacks are against Islam and against the people of Afghanistan."
In the first attack, several would-be suicide bombers teamed up to attack an Afghan police training center Thursday morning in Aryub Jaji, a border town in eastern Paktia province, according to spokesmen for NATO forces and the Paktia governor's office.
After the attackers exchanged fire with Afghan forces at the center, some fled, one was shot before he could enter the training compound and another detonated a bomb at the center's front gate, according to Rohullah Samoon, a spokesman for the Paktia governor.
The explosion killed three police and wounded at least two more, Samoon said.
Afghan officials said they were still searching Thursday for at least two of the would-be suicide bombers who escaped.
A suicide bomber also attacked a government office south of the Afghan capital Thursday morning, detonating a car bomb that injured three police and a bystander, police said.
The bomber planted explosives under firewood in the back of his truck before driving up to the entry gate of the Musayi district administrative office building around 7:30 a.m. and detonating the bomb, which was so powerful it damaged the building and nearby cars, according to a police statement.
A Taliban spokesman claimed two suicide bombers detonated explosive vests in Paktia, and that the Kabul bombing was retaliation for attacks on Taliban forces.
"Security personnel of this district were creating problems for our mujahideen; they were creating obstacles for mujahideen when they were attacking foreign forces," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.
"Now this problem solved."
Another would-be suicide bomber was foiled Thursday morning before he reached his target, a police station in the southern city of Kandahar.
Afghan national police recognized the bomber as he was trying to enter the station and opened fire, shooting him and detonating his explosives, wounding at least one man, but not seriously, police said.
"Today's incident shows that Afghan national security forces have been empowered recently and found the ability to defeat the insurgents and disrupt all their destructive plans," said Zalmai Ayubi a spokesman for the Kandahar governor, in a statement released after the attack.
Afghanistan has seen five bombings in the last two days as NATO and U.S. troops stage offensives bent on routing insurgents from strongholds in the south and east.
Two explosions rocked the country's eastern provinces Wednesday. In Kunar province, a suicide bomber targeted a meeting of tribal elders in the Asmaar district, police said, killing a dozen people including influential tribal elder Malik Zareen. In Kapisa province, a bomb concealed in a motorbike and was detonated remotely outside a restaurant in a bazaar in the Nijrab district, injuring a dozen people, according to Sabor Wafa, a spokesman for the Kapisa governor.
Meanwhile, NATO officials said Thursday that they had killed several Taliban and al-Qaida insurgents overnight, including Kunar province's suspected al-Qaida leader and the Taliban's central appointed leader for eastern Jowzjan province, Maulawi Qudus.
A NATO forces spokesman said Thursday's bombings were unrelated, "run-of-the-mill" attacks that did not signal the start of the spring fighting season or a significant uptick in violence. He said it remained unclear whether coalition efforts to solidify their hold on Taliban strongholds this winter will have an effect in coming weeks, when insurgents traditionally return to mount attacks.
"We're not sure what kind of impact this will have once the spring fighting season starts," said Major Tim James, a NATO forces spokesman in Kabul. "We're doing operations on the ground all the time, we're keeping up momentum and preventing insurgents from doing what they want to."
Los Angeles Times special correspondent Aimal Yaqoubi contributed to this report.
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