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Attacks across Afghanistan kill at least 20

KABUL — At least 20 people were killed in four insurgent attacks around Afghanistan on Thursday, according to police and government officials.

The worst attack was a roadside bomb that blew up as a pickup truck crammed with civilians passed by, killing 10 people, five of them women and one a child, said Abdul Zirak, the spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. Six other civilians were wounded.

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That attack took place at 7:30 a.m. in the troubled Musa Qala district in Helmand, a former Taliban stronghold that was never fully subdued by US Marines in their offensive last year.

Since the withdrawal of American surge forces in the ­area, with replacements from Afghan military forces, such attacks have steadily increased, local leaders say.

In Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck a police checkpoint just before dawn, killing three officers, said Javed Faisal, spokesman for the governor of Kandahar Province.

Although Kandahar city had been greatly quieted during the US surge, suicide attacks remain a threat, particularly against police targets.

The provincial police chief, General Abdul Raziq, was nearly killed by a suicide bomber in late August and has not fully recovered from his wounds.

In the eastern province of Laghman, a roadside bomb detonated as an Afghan National Army supply convoy passed by in the Badpakht district, killing five soldiers and wounding one. Laghman was one of the earliest areas where international forces had passed security responsibility to the Afghans.

Since that transition in Laghman began last year, the level of violence in the province has been steadily increasing, according to local officials and elders.

In the fourth attack, in Zabul Province in the south, a bomb hidden in a garbage container exploded, killing two boys who were collecting garbage and wounding three policemen, according to the provincial police chief, Assadullah Shirzad.

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