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Family killed by roadside bomb

A father and his three children died when their car hit a bomb on a road in western Afghanistan.

Farah province spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhawandai said the family was driving early on Tuesday when their car hit the buried bomb. The father and children were killed instantly. The mother was critically injured.

Civilian casualties have soared in recent weeks as insurgents attack around the country to test the Afghan security forces, now that international troops have stepped back.

The United Nations says that in just two weeks, violence has killed or wounded 412 civilians, up 24% over the same period last year. The UN blames insurgents for 84% of those deaths.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghans blocked a major highway south of Kabul, carrying three freshly dug-up bodies they claimed were victims of torture by US special forces and demanding the Americans be arrested, officials said.

Violence erupted at the rally and two demonstrators were killed but the cause of their deaths was unclear, said Mohammand Hussain Fahimi, a provincial council member in Wardak, 27 miles south of Kabul.

The three bodies displayed at the rally were dug up near a former US special forces base in Nirkh district, according to Attaullah Khogyanai, the provincial governor's spokesman. Six other bodies were unearthed there in the past few weeks.

Mr Khogyanai said an investigation was under way but it was too soon to say if the three were among at least nine people who villagers say disappeared into American custody and were never seen again.

US special forces withdrew from parts of Wardak earlier this year at the insistence of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, following alleged torture, kidnapping and summary execution of militant suspects there - charges US officials have denied.

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