- Two police officers and nine civilians are killed
- The ISAF says it's the third straight day of alleged Talban strikes
- A general points to security strides, despite the string of violence
Eleven people died after a roadside bomb exploded in the northwestern Afghanistan province of Badghis, officials said Tuesday.
Sediq Sediqi, an Afghan interior ministry spokesman, blamed the attack on the Taliban. Afghanistan is in the midst of the Eid al-Adha holiday. It's the third strike in recent days in which alleged Taliban insurgents have killed or injured innocent civilians, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.
"The Taliban once again killed many civilians including women and children during holy Eid day. This is yet another extreme kind of crime and atrocity by the Taliban," Sediqi said.
The blast hit three police vehicles, killing two police officers and nine civilians from the same family, including six children, Sediqi said. The ISAF also said six children were killed, and said the other two civilians were women. Sediqi said the attack occurred Monday.
Gen. John Allen, ISAF commander, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack.
"These explosives planted by insurgents again targeted civilians, including children," Allen said in a news release. "Their barbaric tactics have no place in society, and these enemies of peace will be held to account for killing and maiming the innocent children of this nation."
He said the repeated attacks by "alleged Taliban fighters are puzzling, particularly during one of the holiest celebrations of the year."
On Sunday, seven civilians were killed and 17 were wounded during a Taliban suicide attack at a mosque in the Jirqishlaq Hasan Tal area of Baghlan province, ISAF said.
Another attack came on Monday in the vicinity of Pul-e Khumri in Baghlan. A suspected Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up and hurt six members of the Afghan security forces "after they identified and shot him," ISAF said.
Despite the string of strikes, Afghan and ISAF forces "have taken back key Taliban territory across Afghanistan in 2011 and are continuing to hold it, allowing security conditions to continue to improve," Allen said in the news release.
"We have reliable information showing that large numbers of Taliban and insurgent leaders are choosing to phone in their operational orders from Pakistan, abandoning their own foot soldiers, who are left behind to conduct the fighting," he said. "The leaders have fled, forced out by the overwhelming ability of Afghan and coalition forces. Perhaps these Eid holiday attacks on civilians are a sign of just how ineffective and unreliable their 'absent leader strategy' can be."
Allen encouraged insurgents fed up with violence "to seek out a local reintegration center, and their village and district elders, (and) to become a positive, contributing member of Afghanistan's future."
"Every single Taliban and insurgent fighter should take a moment to reflect on just what is at stake, and whether the fight against peace is still worth it," Allen said. "If they choose to ignore guidance set forth by leaders like Mullah Omar, and they lack leadership and direction from those who cynically command them to their deaths from the safety of foreign lands, these may be signs that there is another path -- a path toward peace."