Page last updated at 09:44 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 10:44 UK

Afghan blast 'kills at least 11'


At least 11 civilians, including five children, have been killed in a blast in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, officials say.

The blast reportedly hit a vehicle travelling towards a shrine in the Spin Boldak district of the province.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Kandahar is regarded as the Taliban's spiritual homeland.

Thousands of US and UK forces are engaged in an offensive against the Taliban in the south of the country.

The blast took place in a remote desert area close to the border with Pakistan.

Police said that three women were also wounded and taken to hospital.

Senior police official General Saifullah Hakim blamed the attack on Taliban militants.

Afghanistan has seen rising levels of violence in recent months as insurgents have vowed to counter the surge in foreign forces.

On Thursday a British soldier was killed by a blast while on foot patrol in southern Helmand province, the UK's Ministry of Defence said. A Canadian soldier was also killed while fighting in Kandahar on the same day.

More foreign troops have been killed in July than in any other month since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The spike in violence comes ahead of key presidential and provincial council elections on 20 August.

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