More Than 12 Militants Killed in Airstrike in Afghanistan; Wedding Party Blast Kills 8

U.S.-led coalition troops used airstrikes to kill more than a dozen Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, while a road mine blasted a bus carrying a wedding party, killing the bride, groom and eight other civilians, officials said Saturday.

The troops were in a joint patrol with Afghan forces when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province on Friday, the coalition said in a statement. The joint force retaliated against the attackers and also called in the airstrikes, it said. There were no casualties among Afghan or coalition troops.

On Saturday, a bus carrying a wedding party struck a mine in Spin Boldak district of the southern Kandahar province, killing 10 civilians and wounding six, said Matiullah Khan, the provincial police chief.

Khan said children were among the victims and blamed Taliban militants for planting the explosive.

In southwestern Farah province, several militants were killed in another coalition airstrike Friday during an operation against Taliban and foreign fighters, the coalition said. Exact casualty figures were not provided.

A Taliban-led insurgency has engulfed much of southern and eastern Afghanistan, with more than 2,700 people — mostly militants — killed this year, according to an Associated Press tally of figures from Afghan and Western officials.

In eastern Afghanistan, three Taliban militants were killed Friday when a roadside bomb they were planting in Paktika province exploded prematurely, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Militants regularly attack Afghan and foreign troops with roadside bombs. The number of insurgent attacks in eastern Afghanistan, which borders Pakistan, has risen by 40 percent this year over the same period in 2007.

Also Friday, gunmen kidnapped Abdul Ghiaz Haqmal, a district chief in Kunar province's Marwara district, provincial police Chief Abdul Jalal Jalal said. As police went to investigate, gunmen opened fire, killing an officer and wounding a civilian, Jalal said.