Blasts hit south Afghanistan in weekend attacks

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two bombs set up in push carts exploded minutes apart Sunday in a provincial capital in southern Afghanistan, part of a series of violent attacks across the country.

A young girl and a woman were killed and at least 14 other people were wounded in the first blast in front of a bank in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, the Afghan Ministry of Interior said.

“I was going to get my salary from Kabul Bank, and there was a blast,” Afghan policeman Abdul Tawab said at the scene.

He was among Afghan security forces who were responding to the first bombing when they heard the second blast, which occurred in front of a high school about two miles away.

Five people, including an Afghan soldier, were injured in the second explosion less than a half-hour after the first, according to Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor in Helmand province.

He said a third person died in one of the two explosions, but it was unclear which one.

“We heard a big blast,” said Gul Mohammad as he sat on a hospital bed being treated for a foot injury. He said one of the bombs was placed in a fruit cart. “Then I saw lots of wounded people everywhere.”

North of Lashkar Gah on Saturday, two Afghan policemen were killed and five others were wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Gereshk district, the ministry said.

In western Afghanistan, three Taliban militants were killed and 33 others were wounded in a clash with police Sunday morning.

Sharafudin Najebi, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Badghis province, said the fighting occurred after local residents complained that insurgents were extorting money from farmers harvesting their crops. He said that after a civilian was killed in the fighting, the residents requested help from Afghan security forces, who killed the militants.

In the east, Afghan authorities reported civilian casualties in what NATO said was an attack late Friday and Saturday against the Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda-linked wing of the Taliban, along the border between Khost and Paktia provinces in southeastern Afghanistan. NATO said the attack included precision missile strikes against “a large number of armed insurgents.”

Shafiq Mujahid, head of the Khost provincial council, said at least six civilians, including five children and one woman, were killed in the airstrike and 13 other civilians were wounded.

NATO said it was investigating reports of civilian deaths and would accept full responsibility if innocent people were “unintentionally harmed.”

Also in the east, rockets fired by militants over the weekend struck two homes, killing four civilians, the ministry said.

One rocket landed on a house in Qarghay district of Laghman province, killing two women and injuring two other adults Saturday. Another rocket, apparently targeting an airport in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province, struck a house on Sunday, killing two children and injuring three men and a woman.

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