KABUL, Afghanistan – A homicide car bomber targeting a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan on Friday killed 10 people, including five children and a Dutch soldier, amid a fresh wave of violence that also left more than 24 militants dead, officials said.
In the east, a U.S.-led coalition member was killed in a battle early Friday.
The homicide car bomb blast in Tirin Kot in Uruzgan province targeted a NATO convoy but killed five children as well as a Dutch soldier, said Eimert van Middelkoop, the Dutch defense minister.
Four other Afghan men were also killed in the blast, said Gen. Abdul Qasem Khan, the provincial police chief.
Three Dutch troops and seven Afghan civilians, including two women, were also wounded when the bomber drove a car out of a side street and detonated the explosives near a Dutch armored car, officials said.
Some 2,000 Dutch troops are involved in a reconstruction mission in southern Afghanistan. It was the second time a Dutch soldier was killed in a bombing in Afghanistan and the seventh Dutch fatality since the mission started last August. Three died in aviation accidents, one in an armored car crash and another in an apparent suicide.
"This cowardly attack shows what kind of enemy we are faced with," said Van Middelkoop. "An enemy who just wants to kill, whether it be soldiers or children."
Purported Taliban spokesmen have warned Afghan civilians to stay away from military convoys, saying militants don't intend to kill them, but homicide bombings commonly kill or wound far more civilians than their intended military targets, a fact NATO repeatedly points out.
Violence has spiked around Afghanistan in recent weeks. More than 2,300 people have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from U.S., NATO, U.N. and Afghan officials, as Taliban have increased bombings and homicide attacks, and NATO and US forces have taken the fight to the insurgents.
Much of the fighting has been focused on the southern province of Helmand, where a coalition and Afghan patrol was attacked by militants near Sangin district Thursday. The troops fired back and called in airstrikes.
"More than two dozen enemy fighters were estimated killed during the nine-hour battle and there are no reports of Afghan civilian injuries," a coalition statement said.
In neighboring Zabul province, coalition and Afghan troops "killed a few militants" and detained three others Friday during a raid on a compound in Shahjoy district, the coalition said. During a brief clash at the compound, two civilians were caught in the crossfire. One male teenager died of gunshot wounds and another boy was evacuated for medical treatment.
Also in Zabul, a group of militants attacked a joint coalition and Afghan patrol with machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades near the village of Baylogh in Daychopan district on Thursday. A "few enemy fighters" were killed in the five-hour clash, a coalition statement said.
In eastern Afghanistan, a coalition service member was killed during a clash in Paktika province Friday, a coalition statement said. The soldier's nationality was not released, but most troops in the east are American.
Elsewhere, U.S.-led troops fired at a group of militants who were setting up a rocket in Shah Wali Kot district, Kandahar province, killing "several enemy fighters" and destroying their vehicle, another coalition statement said.
The casualty figures from the various battles could not be independently verified due to remoteness of the areas where the clashes took place.