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Civilians in Afghanistan new target of Taliban

| Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban killed six civilians in Afghanistan, officials said on Tuesday, among a dozen slain in the latest attacks that have seen ordinary people increasingly caught up in the violence, often after being accused of working with the government.

The bodies of four engineers, an adviser and a trainer employed on a project funded by the United Nations were discovered in Herat province, officials said, an area in the west that's seen less violence than other parts of Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

This followed by a few hours the discovery of the bodies of six civilians shot in eastern Paktia province.

A civilian was also wounded in Kabul when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated his explosives near the Energy Ministry after being followed by security forces, city police Chief Mohammad Ayob Salangi said.

In attacking civilians it accuses of supporting the government or foreign troops, analysts said, the Taliban hopes to draw a distinction between itself and the administration of President Hamid Karzai, who it dismisses as an American puppet. This, the movement believes, will force the electorate to reject the government as the Taliban attempts to boost its political standing through violence, intimidation and propaganda in advance of next year's election and the withdrawal of Western combat troops, analysts added.

Karzai condemned the killings, suggesting that Pakistan may have had an indirect role, as he wrapped up a two-day visit in that country.

“The killing of innocent engineers and workers shows that the Taliban and their foreign masters want Afghanistan to be a impoverished and underdeveloped country forever.”

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