KANDAHAR — A suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a police checkpoint and a bank in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, one of two attacks in the heartland of the insurgency that killed 18 people over 24 hours.
Separately, a NATO service member was killed by insurgents in the country's east, according to a military statement.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai blamed the bombings on the Taliban. The militants have escalated their activity as U.S.-led foreign forces reduce their presence in the country and are in the final phase of handing over responsibility for security to Afghan troops.
Karzai said the militants should stop taking orders from foreigners — a veiled reference to Pakistan, whose intelligence services are alleged to be in league with the Afghan Taliban. The president said the security transition is nearly complete and the militants were desperate to derail it.