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Deadly end to holy month in Afghanistan

A series of deaths in Afghanistan marked the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. NATO troops, Afghan rebels and Afghans close to the government were all targets.

Three New Zealand soldiers, members of the NATO peacekeeping force, have been killed by an improvised bomb in northeast Bamiyan, thought to be the country's safest province until a string of recent attacks.

The military coalition also announced a further death on Sunday: "An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member died when an individual wearing an Afghan Uniformed Police uniform turned his weapon against ISAF service members in southern Afghanistan." The exact location of the incident was not given.

Two U.S. special forces were shot dead on Friday by an Afghan militia member in western Farah province.

This year's death toll of NATO forces and contractors killed by their Afghan partners stands at 38 in 31 incidents compared to 35 dead in 21 attacks for all of 2011.

On Saturday, NATO had launched an airstrike in eastern Kunar province. A senior Taliban leader, Mawlawi Nur Mohammad, and his deputy were among those killed in the airstrike in Chapa Darah district, according to NATO forces spokesman Major Martyn Crighton.

Afghan officials told journalists that around 50 Taliban were killed in the NATO attack targeting a gathering of the insurgents. NATO said there were no civilians injured or any civilian property damaged.

Eid attacks

Two brothers of an Afghan parliamentarian were also killed Sunday when a bomb hidden in a cemetery exploded in the capital of Helmand province, according to local police. Seven of the men's family members were wounded in the early-morning blast.

Meanwhile, in the west of the country gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on the car of an intelligence service official as he was driving home from a family visit, killing him and his brother who worked for the customs service.

The attacks came on the first day of Eid ul-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Many Afghans visit the graves of their relatives to pay their respects on Eid.

President's call

In a speech marking the holiday, Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the repeated insurgent attacks which took place during Ramadan.

"The enemies of Muslims," Karzai said, "during the holy month of Ramadan treated the nation of Afghanistan cruelly: bombs, explosions in mosques, suicide attacks in mosques."

He called on the Taliban to make a statement on the attacks: "If you are not behind this, it is being done in your name. As Muslims, as Afghans, raise your voice and say that you did not do it," he said.

jm/jlw (AP, dpa, Reuters)