Blasts kill 20 in Afghan flashpoints: officials

Blasts kill 20 in Afghan flashpoints: officials

In the deadliest attack, a vehicle hit a mine in Arghandab district of the southern province of Kandahar, one of the main battlegrounds in the nearly 10-year Taliban-led insurgency against the Kabul government and NATO troops.

"Today at 10:00 am, 15 civilians were killed, including eight children, four women and three men," the ministry said. One woman was also wounded in the explosion, it added.

Mines and crudely made bombs planted on the side of the road are trademark tactics of the Taliban and other Islamist insurgents fighting to bring down the Western-backed government and evict US-led foreign troops.

Intended to target Afghan and NATO security forces, the bombs frequently kill and maim civilians, by the far the most numerous victims in the war.

The United Nations said last year was the deadliest for civilians in nearly a decade of conflict in Afghanistan, with 2,777 reported dead, largely at the hands of insurgents but also as a result of NATO military operations.

Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, ousted from power by the 2001 US-led invasion but which regrouped to fight an increasingly deadly insurgency.

Attacks also hit eastern Afghanistan, which like the south has been a main flashpoint for violence particularly in areas bordering Pakistan, where Afghan Taliban and other militants have carved out safe havens.

The interior ministry said six civilians, including a woman and two children, were wounded by mortar bombs fired at a district police headquarters in the eastern province of Kunar.

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