Taliban attacks killed two British soldiers and two Afghan police officers Wednesday in restive southern Afghanistan, while nearly 30 militants were killed elsewhere, authorities said.
The deaths were the latest in a surge of violence that underlines the weakness of the central government six years after U.S.-led forces invaded the country and toppled its Taliban rulers.
Most of the insurgent strikes are in the form of roadside bombs or suicide blasts, a tactic that NATO said had killed 227 Afghan civilians this year — a toll it said was “significantly higher” than the number of Afghan or international soldiers killed by the blasts.
NATO, which itself has faced criticism over civilian casualties at the hands of its troops, announced the findings as part of efforts to draw attention to noncombatant deaths caused by the Taliban.
“These improvised explosive devices will have no impact on our ability to carry out our missions ... but are having a devastating affect on the Afghans,” said Maj. Charles Anthony, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.
Violence across nation
The two British soldiers were killed in an explosion as they patrolled in southern Helmand province, the UK’s defense ministry said. A third British soldier and an Afghan interpreter were wounded, the ministry said, giving no more details.
Earlier Wednesday, insurgents detonated a remote-controlled bomb under a police vehicle in neighboring Helmand province, killing two police and wounding three, said Abdul Manan, a local official.
Also in Helmand, Afghan and coalition forces called in airstrikes Wednesday after coming under attack during a combat patrol, the U.S.-led coalition said. It said “more than 24” insurgents were killed.
In central Ghazni province, a joint coalition and Afghan force Wednesday killed “several militants” in a clash, a coalition statement said. A number of civilians were wounded, it said.
Afghan and coalition soldiers in Kandahar came under attack while on patrol Tuesday. They fought back before calling in airstrikes that killed “over a dozen” insurgents, a coalition statement said.
About 18 miles away, insurgents sheltering in a traditional low-walled Afghan compound attacked another joint patrol on Tuesday. Airstrikes later pounded the position, killing six insurgents, the statement said.
It was not possible to confirm casualty figures because of the remote locations of the fighting and the dangers of traveling there.
More than 4,200 people — most of them militants — have been killed so far this year in Afghanistan, according to an Associated Press count.