Afghan unrest kills 16
A bomb exploded outside an Afghan police headquarters yesterday, killing four civilians including two children, officials said, also reporting a dozen militants were killed in a joint US-Afghan operation.
Separately, the Afghan defence ministry confirmed that 19 militants killed on Friday and Saturday were linked to an attack on an outpost in remote northeastern Kunar province that left 10 dead, including US and Latvian troops.
The insurgent Taliban movement claimed responsibility for Sunday's bomb blast in the southern province of Helmand, a militant hotspot that is hit by regular attacks.
The explosives were placed on a motorcycle in Gereshk district, Helmand government spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP.
"Four civilians were killed. Two children were among the dead," Ahmadi said, adding that seven others, including two policemen, were wounded.
The interior ministry said in a statement that only three civilians were killed, including an eight-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy.
Eight were wounded, one of them a policeman, it said, adding the blast was outside the district police headquarters.
Afghan and international authorities said Saturday that around 30 insurgents had been killed in new clashes in militant hotspots as a district police chief and his guard died in a bombing.
Nineteen rebels were killed in operations on Friday and earlier Saturday in the northeastern province of Kunar, the US military said.
The operation was in the same area where militants stormed a military outpost early Friday in an attack that the Nato-led force said killed three US and two Latvian soldiers dead as well as four Afghan troops and an interpreter.
The military did not make it clear if the clash with insurgents was linked to the attack on the base, which was the deadliest incident for foreign troops in about eight months.
The interior ministry said separately that a two-day sweep of the southern province of Uruzgan and involving 200 policemen working with US-led coalition troops had ended on Saturday.
"Twelve armed terrorists including three commanders were killed," it said in a statement.
Bombings, including suicide attacks, are among the main tactics that the Taliban use to target Afghan and international forces as part of an al-Qaeda-backed insurgency, although civilians are most often harmed.
The Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001, warned last week they would step up ambushes, suicide attacks and bombings in a new operation.
In the most severe attack on international forces in months, three US soldiers and two Latvian troops were killed on Friday when their base was stormed by militants in mountainous Kunar.
Four Afghan soldiers and an interpreter also died in the attack in the district of Ghaziabad.
The US-led coalition announced late Saturday that 19 militants had been killed in the same area.
The Afghan defence ministry confirmed Sunday that they were killed in an operation in Ghaziabad launched by troops dropped in by air after the attack.
The post was struck by "hundreds" of men who included al-Qaeda militants and suicide bombers, it said in a statement, releasing new details.
It was the deadliest incident for foreign soldiers since August when 10 French troops were killed in an ambush near Kabul.
Last year was the deadliest of the Taliban-led insurgency and US President Barack Obama has pledged 21,000 more troops to bolster efforts here, where about 70,000 foreign soldiers are already operating.