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Bombs kill 14 civilians in southern Afghanistan

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Two separate roadside blasts in southern Afghanistan killed 14 civilians, including three children, underscoring the high price paid by ordinary people in the conflict with the Taliban, officials said Thursday.

Officials blamed the blasts on Taliban militants, who have made roadside bombings their primary weapons.

According to figures from the U.S.-based Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, the number of incidents from IEDs soared to 828 last month, the highest level of the war and more than twice as many as in July 2008. The majority of the victims in such attacks have been civilians.

A blast on a road in the Gereshk district of Helmand province ripped through a vehicle carrying a family on Wednesday, killing 11 people, including two women and nine men, said Daud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

A 6-year-old girl survived the bombing, Ahmadi said.

"The Taliban are planting these bombs on the main roads, which are killing our civilians," Ahmadi said.

In the neighboring Kandahar province, three children were killed after they started playing with another bomb, which they had found on side of the road west of the provincial capital, police official Mohammad Shah Khan said.

The victims were between 8 and 12-years-old, he said.

Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency, where thousands of additional U.S. troops were deployed this year to try and reverse the militant's gains and create conditions for next weeks presidential elections.