- Associated Press - Monday, February 20, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Three Italian soldiers died Monday in a car accident in western Afghanistan, officials said.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano issued a condolence message expressing his “deep emotion” over the news of the deaths in Herat province.

NATO forces previously said three soldiers died in “an operation,” but Mr. Napolitano’s statement confirmed that they were killed in an accident.

The Italian soldiers were in a convoy going to survey a canal project in Herat’s Shindand district when their vehicle crashed into a canal, said provincial police spokesman Rauf Ahmadi. The Italian news agency ANSA said the soldiers’ armored vehicle overturned while crossing a stream.

Also Monday, a suicide car bomber attacked a police station in southern Afghanistan‘s largest city, Kandahar, killing one police officer.

The attacker drove a Toyota Corolla up to the checkpoint outside of the Kandahar police station and detonated his explosives, said the city’s police chief, Abdul Raziq. Four people were wounded in the explosion — two police officers and two civilians, he added.

Gunfire could be heard immediately following the blast, but Chief Raziq said the shots came from the police.

A civilian compound nearby was also destroyed, according to a statement from the Kandahar government’s media office.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but it fit the pattern of Taliban assaults, which usually focus on government installations or security forces.

The city of Kandahar has continued to be the target of attacks despite a massive campaign by NATO and Afghan forces last year to increase security in and around the city.

Attacks have also continued in other parts of the country. Shindand — where the Italians died — was the site of a drive-by shooting on Sunday.

Mohammad Salim, a police commander in Shindand, said two men on a motorcycle drove up and fired shots at police officers who were shopping in the market. One officer and a boy who was standing nearby were killed.

And a Turkish engineer who was working on construction projects in Shindand was kidnapped over the weekend, Cmdr. Salim said. He said kidnappers forced the man into a car as he was leaving the airport on Saturday. He did not provide further details.

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