Bombs kill more than a dozen in Afghanistan


HERAT, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A bomb killed three U.S. soldiers in southern Afghanistan on Friday, hours after a suicide bomber killed 10 Afghan civilians and two Afghan policemen in a separate attack in the south, officials said.

The attacks bring the toll of U.S. soldiers killed in southern Afghanistan to five in less than 24 hours. The U.S. military is planning to send up to 30,000 extra troops to the south this year to try to stem the virulent Taliban insurgency.

The U.S. soldiers were killed when a home-made bomb exploded in the Tarnak va Jaldak district of Zabul province which borders Kandahar province, where two U.S. soldiers were killed on Thursday, NATO said.

Earlier on Friday more than 10 civilians, one senior policeman and his bodyguard were killed and at least 20 civilians were wounded in a suicide bomb attack in a market in Nimroz province, also in south Afghanistan, the governor of Nimroz said.

The Nimroz blast toll could rise further as casualties are pulled from the rubble of four shops destroyed by the explosion in Zaranj, the capital of Nimroz, Governor Ghulam Dastegir-Azad told Reuters.

A Taliban spokesman said they had carried out the Nimroz attack, which he said killed eight policemen, including two police commanders. The Taliban often exaggerate the number of security forces they have killed.

Late on Thursday, a car packed with explosives was detonated beside a busy market in the Maiwand district of Kandahar, killing two U.S. soldiers, NATO said.

Some 21 civilians were wounded by the blast and a district police chief told Reuters three civilians were also killed, while NATO said one civilian had been killed.

Some 18,000 mainly Canadian, British, Dutch and U.S. troops are locked in daily clashes with a resurgent Taliban in southern Afghanistan, the birthplace of the austere Islamist movement.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month NATO troops were holding their own in southern Afghanistan, but that was not good enough.

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to make the war in Afghanistan one of his foreign policy priorities after he comes to office on January 20.

The U.S. military is due to present Obama with the results of a wide-ranging review of strategy in Afghanistan and the new president is expected to sign off on a deployment of up to 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, most of them to the south.

Elsewhere, U.S. military forces killed two militants and detained three more suspects during an operation to target a bomb-making cell in Zabul province.

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