KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — An official says a suicide car bomber apparently aiming to hit a NATO-Afghan convoy near the southern city of Kandahar blew up early, killing at least three civilians.

Saturday's explosion occurred along a highway near the Kandahar airport.

Javid Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial governor, says it's unclear why the car bomber detonated his explosives early. He says the NATO and Afghan soldiers are all safe.

There were conflicting reports on the number of dead civilians — some said four people died — and how many were men, women or children. Several people also were wounded.

NATO officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Taliban are strong in southern Afghanistan, where the majority of people are Pashtuns, the ethnic group that dominates the militant movement.

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