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Bombs kill 3 NATO troops, 9 Afghans

KABUL -- Roadside bomb attacks in Afghanistan killed three NATO service members and nine Afghans yesterday, officials said, clear evidence that the insurgents' annual spring offensive is under way.

The service members died in southern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said in a brief statement that provided no other information.

In another attack in the south of the country, a roadside bomb in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province killed three civilians and wounded five, said Jawed Faisal, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The Taliban and other insurgent groups make heavy use of roadside bombs, which are among the deadliest weapons for civilians.

In Archi district in the province of Kunduz, a roadside bomb killed two people, including a local police commander who had been credited with reducing the number of insurgent attacks in his area, said Abdul Nazar, a local council member.

Commander Miran and his driver were killed and two other police officers were wounded when the car they were driving toward Kunduz City was destroyed by a bomb hidden on the road, Nazar said. Like many Afghans, Miran used only one name.

Yesterday evening, a roadside bomb exploded in Uruzgan province, killing four civilians and wounding two, police spokesman Fareed Ayal said.

The attacks came on the third day of what the Taliban has called its spring offensive. Insurgents warned they would infiltrate enemy ranks to conduct "insider attacks" and target military and diplomatic sites with suicide bombers.

In past years, spring has marked a significant upsurge in fighting between the Taliban and NATO forces along with their local allies. This fighting season is a key test, as the international coalition is scheduled to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan forces next year.

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