At least 46 people were killed on Tuesday when suicide attacks involving as many as 14 bombers struck an Afghan city and a motorcycle bomb exploded in a busy market. The death toll was the highest this year for civilians in Afghanistan.
Most of those who died were out shopping for food to break the daily fast of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The attacks in Nimroz province in the south-west and Kunduz in the north came during a campaign by Taliban insurgents and their allies to step up attacks as international troops hand over security responsibility to Afghan forces. Nato plans to withdraw most of its troops by the end of 2014.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for any of the blasts.
At least 25 civilians and 11 police were killed in Zaranj, capital of Nimroz province, when several men wearing suicide bomb vests detonated their explosives in different areas of city, the provincial police chief, Musa Rasouli, said.
Not all of the attackers were able to set off their bombs and several were killed or captured by police, officials said.
A separate bomb exploded in the middle of the afternoon in the city of Kunduz outside a hospital near a busy market packed with people shopping for the feast at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts this weekend, officials said.
Abdul Karim Barawi, the governor of Nimroz, said there were three blasts in the city, but official accounts differed.
At least two attackers wearing suicide bomb vests and carrying weapons also attacked the governor’s compound but were killed by security forces before they could set off their explosives, Mr Rasouli said.
Abdul Majid Latifa, the deputy police chief for Nimroz, said 14 bombers in all were involved in the plot; Mr Rasouli put the number at 11. Both said that two of the plotters were killed by police on Monday night and three more were either killed or arrested on Tuesday morning, but their initial accounts of what happened on Tuesday afternoon differed.
Nimroz, a remote region in the south-west corner of Afghanistan, is not as regularly attacked by insurgents as are Helmand and Kandahar to the east. The sparsely populated province is partly desert, and its government representatives have repeatedly complained that it is neglected by officials who are focused on its more volatile neighbours.
Recently, however, Nimroz has seen an increase in violence. On Saturday, an Afghan police officer killed 11 of his fellow officers in the remote Dilaram district of the province.
In Kunduz province in the north, police said a motorcycle bomb outside a crowded bazaar killed at least 10 people, including several children.
Hamid Agha, the district police chief, said the bomb exploded in the early evening as shoppers were rushing home for a meal ending their Ramadan fast. He said five children were among the dead, and at least 25 people were wounded.