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Wave of Deadly, Afghan Insurgent Bombings Kills Dozens, Including NATO Troops

August 14, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And we turn to Afghanistan, where today was the deadliest day in a year for civilians.

The latest violence comes as American forces are increasingly being attacked by Afghans who are supposedly their allies.

Margaret Warner has our story.

MARGARET WARNER: As U.S. military forces draw down and Afghan forces expand toward taking full control of security by the end of 2014, there’s been an increase in insurgent violence, the latest, a wave of bombings today.

In the southwest, suicide attacks by as many as 14 bombers rocked Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province near the Iran border. At least 36 people died. Hours later, a motorcycle bomb exploded in the northern province of Kunduz, ripping through a crowded bazaar, killing at least 10.

International coalition figures show insurgent attacks were up 11 percent in the second quarter of this year over last year.

In Washington today, secretary of defense Leon Panetta attributed the increase to greater coalition pressure on the Taliban.

DEFENSE SECRETARY LEON PANETTA: As the fighting season has progressed, we have seen an increase in enemy-initiated attacks, though violence levels have remained consistent with past summers. We are taking the fight to the enemy. And when you’re aggressive and when you’re conducting operations against them, obviously, the number of casualties are going to increase.

MARGARET WARNER: The past week also brought five more attacks on U.S. and NATO troops by men in Afghan army or police uniforms, another growing trend. At least seven Americans were killed.

Secretary Panetta outlined preventive steps being taken to try to reverse the trend.

LEON PANETTA: Our enemies have attempted to undermine the trust between the coalition and Afghan forces, and, in particular, they have tried to take credit for a number of so-called green-on-blue or insider attacks that have taken place this fighting season.

Make no mistake about it. I have been very concerned about these incidents — both of us have — because of the lives lost and because of the potential damage to our partnership efforts.

MARGARET WARNER: U.S. officials also have to contend with new turmoil within the government of President Hamid Karzai. This month, parliament voted no-confidence in two top officials, Interior Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi and Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, who resigned last week. Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal is also being investigated on charges of corruption.