Suicide bombers launched multiple attacks in a remote corner of southwestern Afghanistan near the Iranian border Tuesday, killing dozens of people including shoppers buying sweets for a Muslim holiday and leaving charred and smoldering bits of cookies and dried fruit among the bodies on the ground.
A separate market bombing, this one in northern Afghanistan, brought the overall death toll to 46, most of whom were civilians. It was the deadliest day for Afghan civilians this year.
The attacks in provinces on opposite ends of the country — Nimroz in the southwest and Kunduz in the north — come as Taliban insurgents and their allies step up their assaults in a display of force that often results in civilian carnage. Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control of security across their homeland in 28 months when most foreign combat troops will have left.
"The Taliban "want to expand their influence — show that they are everywhere," said Afghan political analyst Jawid Kohistani. "They want to show that the Afghan police are not strong enough so they are targeting the security forces and the government."