A suicide car bomber blew himself up next to a police truck bringing a southern Afghan official to work early Monday, killing five children nearby, officials said.

The blast went off at about 9 a.m. local time near a market area in Dand district to the west of Kandahar city, according to the official, district government chief Ahmadullah Nazak.

“I dropped down. Then I heard a second explosion,” Mr. Nazak said. “It hit our car, but it didn’t injure me.” Five children who were near the site of the blast were killed, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

A bodyguard who was driving with Mr. Nazak was wounded, he said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though it fits the pattern of Taliban attacks targeting government officials in the south. As additional U.S. forces have poured into southern Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, insurgents have mounted a counter—campaign of bombings and assassinations aimed at those affiliated with the Afghan government.

In the east meanwhile, NATO forces said they captured a local insurgent commander in Paktia province and killed “several insurgents” in an air strike on a vehicle after troops saw the commander putting an anti—aircraft gun inside. A spokesman for NATO forces, Sgt. Michael Reinsch, declined to say how many insurgents were killed.

More In: International | News