KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The United Nations scaled back its operations in the troubled southern city of Kandahar on Monday, relocating several foreign employees to Kabul and telling more than 200 Afghan U.N. workers to stay home amid rising violence.
The announcement came hours after three bombings -- one targeting a local police official -- shook the city. The rash of attacks came ahead of a joint Afghan-NATO operation to try to wrest control of the area from Taliban militants. The strategy is to flood in troops, rout the militants and rush in new governance, development projects and security to win the loyalty of Kandahar's half- million residents.
Dan McNorton, a U.N. spokesman in the capital of Kabul, insisted the world body was not pulling out of Kandahar and remained committed to continuing its aid and humanitarian work. He declined to say how many international U.N. employees were still working in Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban.
"Due to the current security situation in Kandahar, we have temporarily relocated several of our non-Afghan staff to Kabul," McNorton said. "Our Afghan colleagues have been instructed to remain at home for the time being."
"We will continue to monitor the security situation in Kandahar and hope to be able to get back to work as soon as possible," he added.
Two of the bombs exploded about 30 feet apart as a convoy of Deputy Provincial Police Chief Fazel Ahmad Sherzad passed by.
"They were targeting the car I normally use, but luckily I was not in it at the time," Sherzad said.
A roadside bomb exploded first, then a minute later, a motorbike laden with explosives was detonated. The blasts killed two civilians and injured one police officer and one civilian, the Interior Ministry said. About two hours later, a third blast struck in the north of the city, injuring another Afghan police officer.