5 US troops among 50 killed in Afghanistan

KABUL - About 50 civilians, security forces and militants were killed in a wave of violence around Afghanistan, including a bomb that left 14 Afghan travelers dead in one of the country's most dangerous regions. Five American soldiers died in two attacks using roadside bombs.

The attacks Friday and Saturday reached a broad swath of the country, demonstrating the spread of the Taliban insurgency, which had been largely confined to the country's south and east in the years after the 2001 U.S. invasion. Half of those killed in the most recent attacks were civilians, who often find themselves caught in the grinding war between the Taliban and U.S. and NATO forces.

Bombs caused most of the casualties - including homemade blasts in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and a neighboring province that together killed 20 civilians.

Back-to-back bombs at Shiite shrine kill 4

BAGHDAD - Two bombs exploded back to back near a Shiite shrine in central Baghdad where worshippers had gathered in prayer Saturday, killing four people and injuring 24, police and hospital officials said.

The first bomb went off next to the tomb of a revered ninth century religious figure, Sheik Othman al-Omari. Then a car bomb exploded in a nearby parking lot as crowds were gathering. The blasts damaged the shrine and blew out the windows of neighboring buildings.

Attacks blamed on al-Qaida in Iraq and other Sunni extremists are again targeting Shiite civilians. Violence between Shiites and Sunnis drove the country to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007, though it has ebbed since.

'No winners' yet in Afghan vote; Karzai ahead

KABUL - Afghan President Hamid Karzai hung onto his 54 percent to 28 percent lead over his closest rival Saturday in the presidential contest as the vote count ground on in the face of fraud allegations.

Despite the lopsided margin, the U.N. mission warned there were 'no winners' yet from last month's election, which has come down to the incumbent and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abduallah.

Karzai's lead could still be cut to below 50 percent, depending on the outcome of U.N. investigations.