KANDAHAR - Suicide attackers and a remotely-controlled bomb killed more than 40 people in Afghanistan Tuesday as the nation prepared to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramazan, officials said.

Three suicide bombers killed 36 people, mostly civilians shopping for Eid celebrations, in a bazaar in the capital of Afghanistan’s southwestern Nimroz province on the border with Iran, the provincial governor said.

Hours later in the northern province of Kunduz, a bomb attached to a motorcycle killed up to 10 people in the market of Archi district near the border with Tajikistan, provincial spokesman Enayatullah Khaliq told AFP.

“A bomb rigged to a motorcycle was remotely detonated in the market of Archi district this evening killing 10 civilians and injuring more than 30 others,” he said. A police spokesman put the toll at nine adding that Taliban insurgents were responsible for the attack.

The earlier attack on Zaranj city, capital of Nimroz, was the biggest in recent memory in the relatively peaceful province and one of the deadliest anywhere in the war-torn country this year. At least 66 people were injured.

Three suicide attackers out of an original group of 11 blew themselves up in separate areas of the city, one outside a hospital, police said.

“This was a group of 11 attackers who wanted to conduct simultaneous attacks across the city,” deputy provincial police chief Mujibullah Latifi told AFP. “Security forces killed two of the suicide attackers last night and detained three others this morning. Three managed to detonate themselves while three others were gunned down.

“We have a lot of civilian casualties because two of the attackers detonated themselves near a bazaar where many people had gathered to do shopping for Eid,” he said.

“We have confirmation that 21 civilians and 15 members of the security forces have been killed in these attacks and more than 66 others injured,” provincial governor Abdul Karim Brahawi told AFP.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but similar attacks are usually blamed on Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The attack in the normally peaceful province comes after 11 Afghan policemen were killed there on Saturday when one of their colleagues, believed to be a Taliban infiltrator, opened fire on them. Afghan troops and police have come under increasing pressure as they take over more responsibility for security as Nato troops prepare to leave the country. But civilians continue to bear the brunt of the war. The United Nations said 1,145 Afghan non-combatants lost their lives, mostly in Taliban and other insurgent attacks in the first six months of this year. Last year, a record 3,021 civilians died.

The spread of violence to Nimroz will add to growing concerns over the country’s future once some 130,000 Nato troops withdraw as planned by the end of 2014, handing responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

Western politicians keen to get their troops out of an increasingly unpopular war regularly talk up the ability of the Afghan army and police to cope on their own, but there is widespread fear of a multi-factional civil war once they leave.

The toll is expected to rise, provincial governor Abdul Karim Barahawi told Reuters.

“The attackers blew themselves up in crowded markets to target civilians, there was no government installation nearby,” Barahawi said.

Despite a decline in civilian casualties in the first half of this year compared to 2011, the United Nations last week said civilians were still bearing the brunt of fighting between insurgents and the foreign-Afghan coalition.