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Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Thursday, 6 August 2009 16:07 UK

Bomb strikes Afghan wedding party

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A roadside bomb in Afghanistan has killed a group of people travelling to a wedding in the south of the country, officials say.

First reports said 21 people had been killed in the Garmsir district of Helmand province, but an official later confirmed the death toll as five.

In a separate incident, five Afghan police were killed by a roadside bomb in the Nadali district of Helmand.

Roadside bombs are often used to attack foreign and Afghan forces.

Nato troops are conducting offensives in Helmand ahead of presidential and provincial council elections on 20 August.

Helmand police chief Assadullah Sherzad said the five killed in Garmsir were members of a family who had been travelling to a wedding on a tractor and trailer.

He said five other people had been injured.

Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, said the driver of the tractor was killed along with his wife, two children and another woman.

The incident happened on Wednesday, although information was not released until Thursday.

Militant stronghold

Garmsir district is a militant stronghold where US Marines have been trying to flush out insurgents ahead of the elections on 20 August.

The Taliban have ordered a boycott of the elections and have vowed to block roads leading to polling stations. Analysts say violence is mounting as the elections draw nearer.

The interior ministry said the roadside bomb in Nadali district exploded next to a police vehicle on Thursday, killing five officers and injuring three more.

The blasts came as new Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Afghanistan. He is now in the southern city of Kandahar.

Mr Rasmussen said on Wednesday he was determined to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters make roadside bombs, known as IEDs (improvised explosive devices), from mines and explosives, our correspondent says.

They are activated by pressure plates, trip wires or mobile phones.

As foreign troops have become better at detecting IEDs, the militants have become more sophisticated in modifying their designs, our correspondent adds.



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