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Amid a recent surge in Taliban violence, 12 people working to clear landlines in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province were shot dead by insurgents on Saturday, leaving another 12 injured. Four of the militants were later killed in a gun battle with Afghan soldiers. In Kabul in recent days, a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying Afghan soldiers and a senior Supreme Court official was shot dead as he walked from his home to his car. NATO also says two of its soldiers were killed in an insurgent attack near the main international base. All this comes as the U.S. and NATO’s mission in Afghanistan comes close to an end.