Five Afghans dead in roadside bombing: police
Five people have been killed by a roadside bomb in a region of western Afghanistan under Taliban control, local police said Friday.
The incident happened in the province of Badghis on Thursday, provincial police chief Sayed Ahmad Sameh said, adding the dead were two women and three men.
They were travelling in a public mini-van when the bomb exploded in the Joi Ganj area, Sameh said.
"The Taliban rule that area and government forces can't go there because of planted mines," he said.
In western Farah province, which like Badghis is experiencing escalating violence as Taliban influence spreads to previously peaceful areas, three militants were killed by police in a shootout late Thursday, police said.
The gun battle followed an attempt by militants to kidnap a truck driver and seize his truck loaded with asphalt for road construction, said Ikramuddin Yawar, chief of police for western Afghanistan.
The shootout happened between the Bala Buluk and Dilaram districts, which have been blighted by heavy Taliban presence in recent months, he said.
The Taliban are spreading across the country, Western military intelligence officials say, and the effectiveness of their tactics, which include suicide attacks and remote-controlled roadside bombings, is growing.
These attacks are claiming an increasing number of civilian victims -- many more than government forces -- though Taliban propaganda often successfully turns the blame on international troops fighting for their eradication.
Civilian deaths in Afghanistan rose more than 10 percent in the first 10 months of 2009, UN figures show.
The figures put civilian deaths in the Afghan war at 2,038 for the first 10 months of 2009, up from 1,838 for the same period a year earlier -- an increase of 10.8 percent.
The UN calculations show the vast majority, or 1,404 civilians, were killed by insurgents.
Civilian casualties are a sensitive issue in Afghanistan, and earlier this week demonstrators took to the streets in three cities after ten civilians were allegedly killed by foreign forces in eastern Kunar province.
The international community deploys 113,000 troops to Afghanistan fighting the Taliban under US and NATO command. Another 40,000 soldiers are due to arrive over the course of this year.
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