KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed at least 10 people, including what appear to be foreign troops, Wednesday in a northern Afghan province, officials and police said.
The attack was the latest in a surge of violence as the militants fight to assert their power as NATO forces, led by the U.S., try to build up the Afghan military and leave combat responsibility to the local forces by the end of 2014.
Lal Mohammad Ahmad Zai, a police spokesman for northern Afghanistan, said the bomber blew himself up in Maimanah, the capital of Faryab province. It was not clear what was targeted.
Four of those killed were police officers and six were civilians, including two women and two children, Zai said.
NATO said earlier that two of its service members were killed in a bombing Wednesday in northern Afghanistan. It provided no other details about the attack or the nationalities of the two. It was unclear if the two attacks were related, but Associated Press video from the scene showed what appear to be dead Afghan civilians and foreign troops at the explosion site.
So far this year, 96 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan, including at least 52 Americans.
Germany and Norway, who have troops in the region, said that none of their soldiers were involved. Germany commands alliance operations in the region.
The director of Maimanah hospital, Abdul Ali Aleen, said six of the dead and 26 wounded in the suicide bombing were brought to his hospital.
Abdul Satar Barez, deputy governor of Faryab, said the attack occurred about 10:30 a.m. near a park in downtown Maimanah.
Militants have stepped up their attacks targeting NATO and Afghan security forces in the past two weeks. Nine Afghan policemen were killed and 11 abducting abducted across the nation in the past three days.
Attacks and casualties also were expected to rise around the country as the spring fighting season gets under way. Fighting in Afghanistan usually wanes during the winter months as Taliban fighters take a break because of bad weather. Heavy snow also covers many of the mountain passes used by the Taliban and other insurgent fighters to cross mainly into eastern Afghanistan from safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.