A roadside bombing targeting police officers and an attack on a convoy of de-miners killed at least 13 people in Afghanistan, authorities said Friday, separate attacks blamed on the Taliban ahead of foreign troops withdrawing from the country.
In the western province of Ghor, seven police officers died in the roadside bombing Thursday in Charsada district, provincial Gov. Sayed Anwar Rahmati said. Rahmati said the blast was followed by a four-hour gunbattle between Taliban fighters and police officers that killed eight suspected militants.
Rahmati said officials believe the Taliban placed other roadside bombs in the area, so supplies now would be flown into the region. Roadside bombings are a major threat to both security forces and civilians in Afghanistan.
Earlier Thursday morning, Taliban fighters ambushed a convoy of de-miners traveling through Herat province near the Iranian border, killing six people, police chief Abdul Sami Qatra said. Militants kidnapped two de-miners, Qatra said.
The de-miners work for the Britian-based HALO trust, which specializes in removing hazardous mines and other ordinance left over from wars.
After 30 years of near continuous conflict and war, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.
Although the Taliban plant mines and roadside bombs, they typically do not hamper the work of civilian de-miners who work to clear farmlands and other common land of old explosives. However, an attack in June saw militants kill eight civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province.
The Taliban have intensified their spring offensive in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year. The attacks also come as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Afghanistan in hopes of diffusing a crisis over the runoff presidential election to find a successor for outgoing President Hamid Karzai.