Roadside bombs and a suicide bomber killed 20 people in a spate of attacks across Afghanistan on Thursday, officials said. The deaths came even as armed clashes between insurgents and Afghan security forces have decreased as the fighting season winds down with the advent of cooler weather in the mountainous nation.
In one of the attacks, 10 civilians, including a child and four men, died as their vehicle struck a land mine in southern Helmand province. Seven other people in the group -- which was heading to a wedding -- were wounded in the blast, said Ismail Khan Hotak of the provincial security coordination center.
A suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up amid a police patrol in the southern city of Kandahar, killing the three policemen and wounding two, said Ahmad Jawed Faisal, a provincial governor spokesman.
And five troops died when their convoy hit a land mine in eastern Laghman province, according to Sarhadi Zewak, also a governor spokesman.
Also Thursday, two boys were killed by a roadside bomb in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan. Deputy provincial chief Ghulam Gilani Farahi said the device had probably been planted by insurgents targeting police officers patrolling the area.
Insurgents have been increasingly targeting Afghan authorities and security forces now that NATO is drawing down toward a final withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.
Although the Afghan police and army have expanded rapidly to their planned strength of 352,000 members, they are plagued with low morale and a high desertion rate.
Meanwhile, the spate of so-called insider attacks by members of Afghan security forces against foreign troops and their own colleagues has undermined trust between international forces and the Afghan army and police.
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