Nine Afghans guarding a Nato convoy in the south of the country have been killed in the latest terrorist attack on supply routes.
The deaths in Gereshk district last night are part of a continuing campaign on truck routes that are seen as an easier target for insurgents than Nato bases.
They come about a week after trucks carrying Nato supplies for troops began moving again through the important Khyber Pass route from Pakistan into Afghanistan. Pakistan had closed the Torkham crossing in protest at a Nato helicopter strike that killed two Pakistani border guards.
During the 11-day blockade, about 150 trucks were destroyed and some drivers and police were injured in near-daily attacks in Pakistan. Nato, however, said its supplies were not interrupted as it simply used other routes – such as crossings in the west or further south.
Separately, an airstrike by international coalition forces killed four suspected Taliban who were planting a bomb in neighbouring Nimroz province.
Violence has risen in the south of the country as Nato and Afghan forces have for months attempted to push insurgents from their strongholds in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar.
Checkpoints have been set up around Kandahar city in an attempt to keep insurgents from entering and carrying out attacks.
Control of Kandahar is seen as key to reversing Taliban momentum in the war. The nearly 150,000 international troops and 220,000 Afghan security forces are still struggling to gain the upper hand against an estimated 30,000 insurgents.
The nine-year war has inflicted a mounting toll on Afghan civilians who are caught in the crossfire. In western Afghanistan, a roadside bomb killed three civilians today in Herat city
Meanwhile Nato forces said that a detainee captured in an operation in the south was found dead in his holding cell yesterday.
The man was being held in Kandahar province after being detained on Saturday, and the alliance is investigating the circumstances of his death.