KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgent rockets killed five Afghan civilians Thursday while they were waiting on the side of a road for a bus in the east of the country, government officials said.
The attack came as the Australian government announced the deaths of five soldiers — three when an Afghan soldier turned his gun on them inside a base and two from a helicopter crash.
Attacks and firefights have been on the rise in Afghanistan this summer after a calm winter as the Taliban launch strikes against international forces and step up targeted killings of those seen as beholden to the government.
Insurgents appeared to be aiming at a nearby Afghan army base but the rockets missed their target, said the deputy police chief for Logar province, Raeis Khan Rahimzai says another 10 people were wounded by the barrage in Baraki Barak district.
It was the second such incident in as many days, said Logar government spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh. He said a rocket hit a civilian house on Wednesday and killed one woman inside.
Militants have been responsible for the vast majority of civilian casualties in the Afghan war, with roadside bombs being the biggest killers. A U.N. report last month said 1,145 civilians were killed and 1,954 others were injured in the first half of the year, 80 percent of them by militants.
The Taliban have also been recruiting and encouraging Afghan police and soldiers to attack their international or Afghan colleagues. The Wednesday attack that killed three Australian soldiers in Uruzgan province in the south was the eighth such assault this month — making 15 international service members killed by their partners in Afghanistan in August.
Australia has 1,550 troops in Afghanistan and makes the largest military contribution of any country outside NATO. Last year, four Australian soldiers were killed by Afghan troops.
At least 53 international service members have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month.