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Despite what some believe to be measured progress on a military front in Afghanistan, the Taliban–and the multi-pronged conflict roiling the region–is taking a huge toll on the civilian population:

Buried bombs killed 30 Afghan civilians in a 48-hour span in the latest grim illustration of the dangers faced by noncombatants as the season’s fighting heats up.

Insurgents routinely seed roads and pathways with IEDs, or improvised explosive devices — their favored weapon against Western troops. But most often, those killed and injured by the hidden bombs are civilians. The latest casualties came Saturday in Zabul province, in southern Afghanistan, when a van filled with travelers struck a roadside bomb.

Thirteen people were killed, including four children and four women, said a spokesman for the provincial government.

On Friday evening, two separate bombs planted close together killed four people in the rural Maruf district of volatile Kandahar province. One was apparently triggered by a donkey, and two people riding or leading the animal died in the explosion. Then two more people who rushed to the rescue were killed by another bomb, police said.

The Taliban and other insurgents often plant bombs close together, in hopes of killing troops and then those who rush to the rescue.

Numbers like these are going to make a continued robust American effort in Afghanistan a tough sell for Obama as he rallies the anti-war base over the next year in advance of the 2012 presidential contest. [Los Angeles Times]

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