A mine exploded near a pickup truck carrying Afghan soldiers close to the Pakistani (search) border on Saturday, killing nine soldiers and seriously wounding another, an Afghan commander said, one of the bloodiest attacks in months.

The 10 soldiers from a border guard unit were traveling on a road near Spinboldak, a frontier town in southern Kandahar province (search), Abdul Raziq Khan told The Associated Press.

Khan, the unit's commander, said the mine was freshly laid and blamed Taliban (search) militants for the attack.

"They are coming over the border from Pakistan to carry out these attacks," he said in a telephone interview from Spinboldak.

The only survivor, an officer called Qadir Bhai, was seriously injured and taken to a nearby French special forces base for treatment, Khan said.

U.S. and Afghan security forces are in the midst of a winter-long operation aimed at keeping militants on the defensive and preventing them from preparing major violence against Afghan parliamentary elections slated for the spring.

Commanders have said the operation includes fresh efforts to tighten security along the mountainous border with Pakistan, where militants are believed to find refuge between attacks on American and Afghan troops.