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Taliban bombs kill eight in Afghanistan

13 June, 2012

KABUL: Taliban bomb attacks killed at least eight people, including women and children, in Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said.

A suicide bomber on a bicycle targeted a police patrol in the main market of Chahar Bolak, a small town in the northern province of Balkh, regional police spokesman Lal Muhammad Ahmadzi told AFP. The Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed the incident, saying three civilians were killed and five police officers were wounded.

Hours earlier, a roadside bomb ripped through a minibus in the central province of Wardak, killing five civilians, an official said. Provincial government spokesman Sahidullah Shahid said a mine exploded under the minibus, killing five civilians, including women and children. "Two others are injured," Shahid said. Four other passengers survived the explosion in the restive province's Sayedabad district, he said. Authorities blamed both attacks on the 'enemies of Afghanistan', a phrase commonly used by Afghan officials to refer to Taliban and other insurgents.

On Monday, a roadside bomb killed five people in northern Afghanistan and last week twin suicide bombings killed 23 people in the south. Taliban insurgents regularly use improvised roadside bombs to target Afghan and Western military forces, but they often kill civilians who use the same roads. For the past five years the number of civilians killed in the war has risen steadily, reaching a record 3,021 in 2011 - the vast majority caused by insurgents, the United Nations says.

The Taliban are still fighting a bitter insurgency more than a decade after being toppled from power by the 2001 US-led invasion. Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday said NATO had agreed not to carry out air strikes on residential areas even in self-defence, apparently contradicting comments made by senior coalition commanders.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) ordered an end to air strikes on homes except as a last resort to ensure the defence of troops, Lieutenant General Curtis Scaparrotti, deputy commander of US forces, said on Monday.

The order came after General John Allen, the head of the coalition force, flew to Logar province, south of Kabul, to apologise over the deaths of civilians, including women and children, in an air raid last week.

But at a news conference on Tuesday, the Afghan leader said the agreement did not allow air strikes even in self-defence.

"An agreement has been reached with NATO that no bombardment of civilian homes for any reason is allowed," he said.

"We consider this an absolutely disproportionate use of force and an illegitimate use of force. Even when they are under attack they cannot use an airplane to bomb Afghan homes."

NATO says the air strike on Wednesday targeted insurgents in a residential home but Afghan officials say 18 civilians died in the attack and Karzai expressed outrage and cut short a visit to Beijing.


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