A spate of attacks against Afghanistan's intelligence service and international forces killed at least nine people, including five NATO troops, Wednesday in a violent testament to the tenuous nature of gains made against the virulent insurgency.
The strikes, including a suicide motorbike bombing in the relatively calm Afghan capital, erupted just as Vice President Biden was leaving the country after a visit during which he praised advances against the militants while acknowledging the gains as "fragile and reversible."
Roadside bombs have been the deadliest weapon in the insurgent arsenal against international forces in the course of the Afghan War. Two such attacks Wednesday killed four international troops -- three in one blast in the east and one more in the south. A fifth international service member was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, and another died in the east from a "non-battle related injury," NATO said. It did not provide the nationalities of those killed or more specific locations for the attacks.
The deaths brought the number of international forces to have died so far this year in Afghanistan to 17, including at least eight Americans.
Last year was the deadliest of the war for international forces, with more than 700 killed, compared with slightly more than 500 in 2009.
Wednesday's violence began in crowded western Kabul during the morning rush hour, when a suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a minibus carrying Afghan intelligence service employees. The attack left at least two people dead and injured more than 30.
About an hour later in the troubled eastern province of Kunar, a remote-controlled roadside bomb killed a colonel with the intelligence service and his driver, and injured two bodyguards, said Abdul Saboor Allahyar, deputy chief of Kunar's provincial police.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.