KABUL, Afghanistan — A powerful Taliban car bomb killed as many as 12 Afghan policemen and a child on Sunday in a southern town where Afghan forces took over security responsibilities from Western troops less than two weeks ago.
The suicide attack on an Afghan police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, could bode ill for hopes that the Afghan police and army will be able to protect themselves and the civilian population against insurgents without the backing of Western firepower.
The bombing came on the eve of the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Lashkar Gah was one of seven cities or provinces handed over to the Afghan police and army earlier in July, inaugurating a nationwide transition of security responsibilities away from NATO combat troops that is to be completed in 2014. The Taliban and other insurgent groups have specifically targeted several of the areas affected so far.