KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan killed three NATO service members and nine Afghans on Tuesday, officials said, clear evidence that the insurgents’ annual spring offensive is underway.
The service members died in southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said in a brief statement that provided no other information.
In another attack in the south of the country, a roadside bomb in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province killed three civilians and wounded five, said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
The Taliban and other insurgent groups make heavy use of roadside bombs. They are among the deadliest weapons in the Afghan war for civilians.
In the north, in Archi district in the province of Kunduz, a roadside bomb killed two people, including a local police commander who had been credited with reducing the number of insurgent attacks in his area, said Abdul Nazar, a local council member.
Commander Miran and his driver were killed and two other police officers were wounded when the car they were driving toward Kunduz City was destroyed by a bomb hidden on the road, said Nazar. Like many Afghans, Miran only used one name.
On Tuesday evening, a roadside bomb exploded in Uruzgan province in central Afghanistan, killing four civilians in a car and wounding two, said police spokesman Fareed Ayal.
The attacks came on the third day of what Taliban has called its spring offensive. The insurgents warned they would infiltrate enemy ranks to conduct “insider attacks” and target military and diplomatic sites with suicide bombers.
In past years, spring has marked a significant upsurge in fighting between the Taliban and NATO forces along with their local allies. This fighting season is a key test, as the international coalition is scheduled to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces next year.
On Tuesday, Afghan and coalition security forces arrested two Taliban insurgents in Logar province, and on Monday Afghan security forces rushed to the assistance of local police under attack in Ghazni province and killed three insurgents and wounded four, NATO said in a statement.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar City contributed to this report.