Mortar Attack On Afghan Market Kills At Least 23

A mortar attack on a market in southern Afghanistan has killed at least 23 people and injured dozens of others.

A spokesman for the governor of the southern province of Helmand said the June 29 attack occurred close to a cattle market and that children were among the dead.

The spokesman immediately pinned the attack on the Taliban, which in turn blamed the government.

While violence had dropped across much of the country after the Taliban offered a brief cease-fire to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival last month, officials say the insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent weeks.

On June 28, a roadside bomb killed at least six civilians and wounded two others in the same province.

The Taliban and Afghan government are preparing to enter into much-delayed peace talks aimed at ending the war in the country.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa