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Fresh Violence Erupts in Southern Afghanistan

By VOA News
11 August 2009

A fresh wave of violence has hit parts of southern Afghanistan, raising the number of dead civilians and troops just nine days ahead of the country's presidential elections.

Afghan officials Tuesday said separate roadside bombs targeted civilian vehicles in Kandahar province.

A doctor, Daud Farhad, at the hospital in Kandahar city says nine people were killed, including two women. At least four other civilians were wounded.

NATO officials said Tuesday three U.S. troops were killed in separate clashes with Taliban insurgents over the previous three days in the southern part of the country.

The last few weeks have been especially deadly for Western troops in Afghanistan. Almost 30 international troops have been killed so far this month - a record pace according to a count by the Associated Press.

Officials say Taliban insurgents have been stepping up attacks across the country to discourage voters from taking part in the upcoming election.

At least 75 troops from the U.S. and other international forces were killed in July, making it the deadliest month for the forces since a U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban in late 2001.

Despite the recent violence, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday he believes the elections will pass peacefully.

Mr. Karzai, who is running for reelection, also urged young people at a rally in Kabul to cast their ballots.

Meanwhile, the Afghan president's plan to try to reconcile with the insurgents appears to be getting some support from the top NATO commander in Afghanistan.

U.S. General Stanley McChrystal tells U.S. media, in an interview with National Public Radio, he would be "comfortable" with Taliban fighters and lower-level Taliban commanders reintegrating into Afghan society.

Mr. Karzai has promised to convene a grand tribal council that will include Taliban representatives if they stop fighting the government.

Also Tuesday, Polish officials said they may deploy another 200 troops to Afghanistan.

Poland currently has 2,000 troops in Afghanistan. Earlier Tuesday, Poland's defense ministry said a Polish soldier was killed in Afghanistan in an exchange of fire with the Taliban on Monday. Four other Polish soldiers were wounded.

Afghan forces said at least three of their soldiers were killed in the same attack.

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