KANDAHAR, Oct 13: A suicide attack and bomb blasts killed at least nine people in Afghanistan, including two coalition forces members, in southern Kandahar province, Isaf and local officials said on Saturday.

A suicide bomber targeted a group of foreign soldiers and Afghan intelligence agents in Maruf district of Kandahar province, killing two coalition members and four agents, officials said.

Earlier a roadside bomb ripped through a police vehicle in Qalat, the capital of neighbouring Zabul province, killing two policemen and wounding three others, officials said.

Violence has recently spiked in southern Afghanistan, with Taliban militants increasing their attacks on Afghan and Nato-led forces.

The attacks also regularly take a toll on Afghan civilians. A 12-year-old boy was killed and 10-year-old girl wounded after stepping on a bomb in Kajaki district of volatile Helmand province in southern Afghanistan on Friday, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement.

The children were grazing their sheep in the area, it said. The statement blamed “armed insurgents”, a term used by Afghan officials to refer to the Taliban, for the casualties.

Isaf said the suicide blast in Kandahar province also wounded several coalition civilian members and Afghan National Security Forces.

“Isaf can confirm that one coalition forces service member and one coalition forces civilian, along with several ANSF service members, died today in southern Afghanistan,” Isaf spokesman Adam Wojack said. “The injured personnel were evacuated to Isaf medical facilities for treatment,” he said.

The attacker was on foot and detonated his explosives-filled vest at a checkpoint close to an office of NDS, the Afghan intelligence agency, according to Kandahar provincial spokesman Jawed Faisal.

“The foreign and Afghan officials were standing at the checkpoint when the attacker blew himself up.

“The blast killed four NDS agents and wounded three others. There were some casualties among foreigners too,” he said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to their spokesman Qari Yousif Ahmadi, saying the attack killed six foreigners and several Afghan security forces.

The United States led an invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban government for harbouring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The Taliban were quickly routed, but launched an insurgency that grew in strength over the years until Nato had some 130,000 troops from 50 countries defending the western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The troops have now begun pulling out and all foreign combat forces will be gone by the end of 2014, according to a withdrawal schedule agreed to by the US and Nato.—AFP


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