KABUL (AFP) – Bomb blasts killed five NATO soldiers in Afghanistan on Friday, the alliance force said, in the latest in a surge of extremist attacks that have raised alarm about deteriorating security.
Five Afghan policemen were also killed in an overnight bomb attack that was similar to scores carried out by the hardline Taliban group waging an insurgency after being driven from government in 2001.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not release the nationalities of its soldiers killed in eastern provinces along the border with Pakistan, where extremist rebels are said to have sanctuary.
Four died with a civilian interpreter in the eastern province of Kunar, ISAF said in a statement that gave few details. Another died in a similar blast in Khost, it said separately.
Most soldiers deployed in both provinces are US nationals who make up about half of the nearly 70,000 international troops helping the Afghan government fight a spiralling insurgency.
The new deaths take to 149 the number of mostly Western soldiers to die in Afghanistan this year, a majority losing their lives in attacks. For the past three months, more foreign troops have died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.
The five Afghan policemen were killed late Thursday in the volatile southern province of Kandahar, a Taliban stronghold.
They were on patrol in Pajwayi when a remote-controlled bomb blew up their vehicle, deputy district police chief Bismillah Khan told AFP. Two other officers were wounded, he said.
About 800 Afghan security forces — mostly police — have been killed so far this year, according to the interior ministry.
Hundreds of civilians have also died in violence, most of them in attacks by Islamic extremists who regularly abduct and kill Afghans working with the government as part of their bloody campaign of intimidation.
The Taliban said Friday it had kidnapped a district governor in Kunar province.
Provincial governor Fazlullah Wahedi confirmed that Marawara district chief Abdul Ghayas Haqmal was missing. “We don’t know who have kidnapped him,” he said.
Haqmal had last month thwarted a Taliban attack on a district in Kunar.
Elsewhere, in southwestern Nimroz province, a 14-year-old boy trying to flee police blew himself up after the officers opened fire, killing three passers-by and wounding five others, provincial governor Gulam Dastgir Azad told AFP.
The Taliban launched their insurgency after being ousted from government in a US-led invasion nearly seven years ago after they did not hand over their Al-Qaeda allies for the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The violence has grown year on year, ruining the post-Taliban government’s hopes of rebuilding a country destroyed by decades of war.
An umbrella body of aid groups said Friday that insurgent attacks, bombings and other violent incidents were up by about 50 percent this year compared with the same period last year.
Unrest has spread to once stable areas and welfare agencies were forced to scale back aid delivery even as drought and food price hikes put millions of people in difficulty, the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief said.
“This year 2,500 people have reportedly lost their lives in the conflict and whilst exact figures are not yet available, this could include up to 1,000 civilians,” the group said in a statement.
“So far this year 19 NGO staff have been killed, which already exceeds the total number of NGO workers killed last year.”
Officials have also said that recent attacks showed more sophistication and planning while more foreign fighters — including Pakistanis, Turks, Chechens, Arabs and Uzbeks — were on the battlefield.