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UN Condemns Kabul Attacks That Killed At Least 17

Seventeen Afghans and foreigners were reported killed in a series of attacks February 26 in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

UNITED NATIONS -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the Taliban attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul, that reportedly killed at least 17 Afghans and foreigners and injured more than 30 others.

In a statement, Ban said the deliberate targeting of civilians shows the Taliban's "senseless disregard for human life."

Authorities said up to nine of those killed in the coordinated assault by suicide attackers February 26 in central Kabul were Indian citizens, including some government officials.

A French filmmaker and an Italian diplomat also were reported killed.

It was the second deadly Taliban attack in the Afghan capital since the start of this year, follwing a January 18 assault by suicide attackers on government buildings and other targets.

In another development, A U.S. official says the United States military is planning a new offensive later this year aimed at forcing the Taliban out of the southern Afghanistan city of Kandahar.

News agencies quoted a senior Obama administration official as saying the current offensive against the Taliban in Marjah in Afghanistan's south is a "tactical prelude to larger, more comprehenisve operations later this year in Kandahar city."

Kandahar is Afghanistan's second largest city, and the Taliban regime ruled from there before the U.S.-led invasion toppled the Islamic militant regime in late 2001.

The U.S. official said the ongoing Operation Mushtarak in Marjah, in Helmand Province, remained on track to clear Taliban fighters from the area.

Earlier in the week, Afghan authorities raised the Afghan flag over Marjah to signify the handover of control to the government from U.S.-led NATO forces.

compiled from agency reports