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2 coalition soldiers, 12 workers clearing mines killed in Afghanistan

Insurgents step up attacks in Afghanistan ahead of foreign troops' withdrawal

A series of attacks in Afghanistan killed at least 21 people, including 12 members of a landmine clearance team and two soldiers of the U.S.-led military coalition, officials said Saturday.

In the deadliest incident, gunmen attacked a group working to clear land mines in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. After the attack, the assailants engaged in a firefight with Afghan army soldiers. Provincial officials in Helmand said they killed four assailants and detained three others.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Taliban insurgents and their allies in the past have targeted teams working to clear land mines in Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. In April, Taliban militants attacked a demining team in eastern Logar province, killing 12 people.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for an attack Friday night in the northern province of Parwan that targeted soldiers belonging to the U.S.-led military coalition. The International Security Assistance Force, as the coalition is known, said that two service members died in the attack near the Bagram air base, but they did not immediately disclose the victims' nationalities. Afghan news media said the casualties were Americans.

In the capital, Kabul, Taliban gunmen assassinated Atiqullah Rawoofi, a senior Afghan Supreme Court official, near his home.

Later, six Afghan soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber attacked a bus transporting members of the Afghan army.

Hashmat Stanikzai, Kabul police spokesman, said 14 people also were injured in the attack that took place in rush-hour traffic.

The attacks came amid a rash of bombings in the capital as the U.S.-led coalition withdraws most of its soldiers. On Thursday, a teenage suicide bomber struck a French-run cultural center during a play, killing one person and wounding more than a dozen.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

8:55 a.m.: This story was updated with additional information on attacks and further reporting.

2:53 a.m.: This story was updated with a revised death toll and new details throughout.

This story was first posted at 2:40 a.m.

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