13 December 2014
Last updated at 12:48
Taliban fighters have launched several attacks on Kabul in recent weeks, raising questions about security
Taliban gunmen have shot dead 12 people working to clear landmines in southern Helmand province, Afghan police say.
In the capital, Kabul, a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying Afghan soldiers, and the Taliban said it killed a senior Supreme Court official.
And Nato said two of its soldiers died when insurgents attacked close to the main international base north of Kabul.
The incidents come amid an upsurge of Taliban violence as the US and Nato mission in Afghanistan nears its end.
Taliban fighters attacked the landmine-clearing operation early on Saturday, shooting 12 workers dead and injuring another 12, police spokesman Farid Ahmad Obaid told reporters.
He said Afghan soldiers later took on the militants in a gun battle, killing four and capturing three.
Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world and clearing projects have been targeted by Taliban militants in the past. In April, Taliban gunmen killed 12 landmine clearers in Logar province.
Saturday’s attack on the mine-clearers was the most deadly in a series of militant attacks against Afghan and Nato targets over the past few days.
Reports from Kabul said a suicide bomber destroyed a bus carrying Afghan troops shortly after the mine-clearers were killed.
An Afghan news agency tweeted a picture showing a plume of smoke rising from a burning vehicle in the middle of a busy Kabul street.
There were reports of casualties, but no details were immediately available.
Earlier on Saturday, police in Kabul said Atiqullah Rawoofi, the head of the Supreme Court’s secretariat, was shot dead by two men on a motorbike as he walked from his home to his car.
In other attacks:
- Militants killed two Nato soldiers late on Friday near Bagram air base, officials said. The nationality of the soldiers was not released
- On Thursday, a teenage suicide bomber struck the auditorium of a French cultural centre in Kabul during a performance of a play condemning violence. One German national was killed and 16 people were injured.
Last month, Kabul’s police chief resigned following several attacks on foreigners and locals in the city.
Friday’s Nato deaths were the first since December, raising to 65 the number of international troops killed in Afghanistan during 2014, 50 of them from the US.
Most foreign forces will leave the country in under three weeks, although about 12,000 Nato soldiers will remain to train and advise Afghan security forces from 1 January.
The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Kabul says the recent violence has provoked fresh debate about how the Taliban have been able to evade the apparently rigorous security in the capital.
President Ashraf Ghani, who took power in September, has vowed to bring peace after decades of conflict.