Bombs kill 11 Afghan civilians on first day of three-day ceasefire


KABUL (Reuters) - At least 11 civilians were killed and 13 others wounded in four separate bombings in Afghanistan on Thursday, hours after a three-day ceasefire began across the country to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, local officials said.

Although there were no reports of direct fighting between Taliban insurgents and government forces as they observe the temporary ceasefire, roadside bombs continued to inflict casualties on civilians.

A roadside bomb struck a car in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province, killing five civilians, including a woman and children, said Jamal Naser Barekzai a spokesman for the provincial police.

In another incident, two children were killed and three adults wounded when a roadside bomb exploded beneath a taxi in the Maiwand district of the same province, Barekzai added.

In northern Kunduz province, a sticky bomb attached to a civilian car exploded, killing two civilians and wounding 10 more, said Enhamuddin Rahmani, a spokesman for the province's police chief.

Two civilians were also killed by a roadside bomb in central Ghazni province, officials said.

The three-day ceasefire announced by the Taliban and heeded by the government comes at a time when violence has sharply escalated across Afghanistan following Washington's announcement last month of plans to pull out all U.S. troops by Sept. 11.

Afghan security forces had mounted an operation to retake a Taliban-held district outside the capital Kabul in neighbouring Wardak province on Wednesday but it was halted to observe the ceasefire.

A day earlier, Taliban insurgents had killed or captured some government soldiers and forced others to retreat after storming the district of Nerkh, less than an hour's drive from Kabul.

(Reporting by Kabul Bureau, Editing by Gareth Jones)

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