KABUL  - Eight Nato soldiers, were killed in a series of bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, while explosives hidden in a trash heap killed six children in the south of the country, the military and police said Friday.

Three died on Thursday, another lost his life in a blast on Friday and four more were killed in second attack later the same day.

Nato’s US-led International Security Assistance Force did not release the nationalities of the soldiers, in keeping with policy. Details would be released by the soldiers’ home countries, a spokesman said.

More than 560 foreign troops were killed last year in Afghanistan, where some 130,000 US-led troops are fighting an insurgency by Taliban against the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

Also on Friday, a policeman turned his gun on his colleagues in their headquarters of Shahrak district, central Ghor province, killing two before being gunned down himself, deputy provincial police chief Abdul Rashid said. The motive was not immediately clear, but in the past police and soldiers have turned their guns on their colleagues — sometimes foreign troops — and the attacks have been claimed by the Taliban.

Separately, explosives hidden in a trash heap killed six children in southern Afghanistan Friday, police said.

The children were rummaging through the trash for food scraps and bottles in the southern province of Uruzgon when the blast killed them, police spokesman Farid Ayal said. A civilian man also died in the blast. Four other children were wounded by the explosion in Trinkot, the provincial capital about 250 miles southwest of Kabul. Roadside bombs are a favourite weapon of Taliban insurgents against coalition troops and the US-backed Afghan government, but they also kill dozens of civilians each month.

US and Nato forces in Afghanistan have been significantly increased since 2009 and the government’s army and police have rapidly expanded, resulting in the capture and killing of thousands of Taliban insurgents. Nonetheless, the guerrillas have retained their capability to inflict losses on coalition forces.

Faced with overwhelming allied superiority in numbers and firepower, the Taliban largely avoid direct combat, relying instead on roadside bombs, small ambushes and hit-and-run tactics to harass Nato and government forces.

Taliban military activities typically abate during the winter months, due to heavy snows and bitter cold in the rough mountain terrain.

The steady flow of casualties and the high costs of the operation have undermined support for the war, particularly among European allies who make up about a third of the approximately 130,000-member Nato-led force. They come at a time when defence budgets are being slashed as part of public spending cuts and other austerity measures designed to deal with the worsening economic crisis.

Nato is gradually handing over responsibility for security to the rapidly expanding Afghan police and army. Coalition forces plan to cease combat operations in 2014, when most foreign troops will be withdrawn.

The government’s army and police will assume the lead role in about half the nation over the next several months.

On Thursday, President Hamid Karzai demanded that the largest detention centre in the country be handed over to exclusive Afghan control.

The state-of-the-art internment facility located near Bagram Airfield is now jointly run by US and Afghan authorities. It was completed in 2009 to replace another jail, where human rights groups claimed detainees were menaced, forced to strip naked and kept in solitary confinement in windowless cells.

Karzai also demanded that all Afghan citizens held by the coalition troops across the nation be turned over to the government. A presidential statement said that keeping Afghan citizens imprisoned without trial violates the country’s constitution, as well as international human rights conventions.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the US and Afghanistan have been working on the transfer of detention facilities for a long time. She said no timeline has been agreed on.