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11 Civilians, Afghan General Killed by Roadside Bombs


Roadside bombs have killed 11 civilians and a top army commander in Afghanistan.

The civilian causalities occurred late Thursday when a vehicle carrying the victims hit an improvised explosive device, according to a district chief in restive northern Baghlan province.

Muhibullah Kohistani told VOA two women and five children were among the dead, while three children were also wounded.

The blast occurred hours after officials in southern Kandahar province confirmed General Abdul Basir Sheerwand was killed in a roadside bomb explosion.

The slain general was involved in an anti-Taliban operation in the Shahwalikot district.

A Taliban spokesman said it was behind the attack and claimed several security guards of the slain general were also killed.

The security operation in the area has been underway to evict Taliban insurgents who have for weeks seized and blocked a portion of the main highway linking Kandahar to Uruzgan province.

General Sheerwand is the second Afghan army general to have been killed by Taliban insurgents in Kandahar within the past two months.

Separate insider attack

Separately, officials confirmed eight police officers were killed early Thursday by a colleague who turned his gun on them in southern Zabul province.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the pre-dawn "insider" attack in the provincial capital, Qalat, saying the shooter had infiltrated police ranks and has now returned to the insurgent group.

Insider attacks, often claimed by the Taliban, are not uncommon among Afghan security forces.

Earlier this month, two Romanian NATO soldiers were shot dead at an Afghan military base in Kandahar.

The attackers, wearing uniforms of the security forces, were killed in return fire. The Taliban later claimed responsibility.

Spring offensive

The Taliban has intensified attacks across Afghanistan since launching its so-called annual spring offensive on April 12.

The insurgent group inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan security forces during the 2015 fighting season, killing nearly 6,000 personnel, including soldiers and police, while another 14,000 were wounded.

The militant group also captured more territory than at any point since it was ousted from power in 2001 for harboring al-Qaida.

The U.S.-led military coalition ended its combat mission in 2014, leaving behind 13,000-troops, mostly Americans, to train Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.

Afghan leaders blame the withdrawal of international forces for the battlefield and other losses, but have vowed to evict Taliban insurgents from areas they now control and keep them from making advances this year.