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TALIBAN BOMBS PACK MORE PUNCH

Not only are militants using more powerful explosives, but attacks also are killing civilians.

A ruthless new generation of Afghan insurgents is casting aside Taliban doctrine that opposed killing large numbers of civilians, instead using more powerful explosives and packing bombs with ball-bearings to maximize kills.

Just this week, about 140 people died in two bombings. Afghan security officials say the militants have started using C-4, a powerful explosive not seen before in Afghanistan

"It's not like Baghdad, but the terrorists are learning lessons from each other," said Abdul Manan Farahi, counterterrorism chief for the Interior Ministry.

The recent bombings are part of a bloody trend in the deepening Afghan conflict. Militants have stepped up attacks, and NATO has boosted its forces and taken the fight to the Taliban.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide car bomb attack on a Canadian military convoy at a market near the Pakistan border. The spokesman denied the militia was behind Sunday's bombing that killed more than 100.

The Taliban insists that it is avoiding attacks that target civilians.

However, a militant spokesman said Taliban leaders have called on bombmakers to raise the power of blasts against U.S. and NATO military forces, which could increase the possibility that civilians will also be killed.

"All these bombs that are stronger than before, this is because of the growing experience of our jihadi fighters," spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told the Associated Press. "We will continue to make these kinds of bombs to attack our enemies."

Reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar has in the past called on his fighters not to carry out attacks around civilians, apparently aware that such killings hurts the militia's cause. But a new breed of ruthless militants has replaced dozens of insurgent leaders killed or captured by coalition and Afghan forces.

While it is difficult to identify specific links between militants fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, military and counterterrorism officials have acknowledged there is a crossover between the Taliban and al-Qaida, and jihadists across the world share knowledge using the Internet and videos.

BY THE NUMBERS

Violence growing within Afghanistan

More than 6,500 deaths in 2007 by militant-related violence, mostly Taliban fighters.

480 Civilians killed by militants in 2007.

360 Civilians killed by U.S. or NATO action in 2007.

6 The number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in all of 2003 and 2004.

More than 140 Number of suicide bombings in 2007.

More than 100 People killed by a bomb at a dog-fighting match near the southern city of Kandahar on Sunday.

38 Afghan civilians killed in a bomb attack Monday.

1 Civilian killed in bomb attack Tuesday.

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