News24

20 killed in Afghan mine bus blast

2011-06-30 22:33

Kabul - Twenty Afghan civilians including women and children were killed on Thursday when a landmine exploded under a bus they were travelling in, a senior police figure said.

"An IED [improvised explosive device] struck a bus, 20 civilians were killed," said Haji Mosa Rasooli, accusing the Taliban of being behind the blast.

The Islamist militants, who have been waging a near decade long insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign forces, were not immediately contactable for comment.

The blast occurred in the remote and volatile southwestern province of Nimroz.

It took place at around 16:00 (11:30 GMT) in the region's Khash Rod district on the main highway linking Nimroz to Kandahar, the de facto capital of southern Afghanistan.

The incident came on the same day as a father, a mother and their four children were killed in southern Afghanistan when a roadside bomb ripped through their car.

The family were travelling to Lashkar Gah, the main town in Helmand province, when they were killed, provincial spokesperson Daud Ahmadi said.

"Four children, one female, and one male were killed in the sedan car en route to [the provincial] capital," he added.

More incidents this year

Although the attack bore the hallmarks of the Taliban, who frequently plant roadside bombs in Afghanistan's restive regions, the militant Islamist network declined to comment on the attack.

Civilians are the biggest casualties in the near 10-year war in Afghanistan, where 150 000 foreign forces are stationed.

The first wave of foreign troop withdrawals is due to start in July including the departure of 10 000 US troops this year despite questions from analysts over whether Afghan security forces can cope in their absence.

The United Nations says Afghan civilian deaths in the conflict increased 15% to a record high of 2 777 last year. More than three-quarters of the dead were killed in violence blamed on insurgents.

The UN also said this month that the number of security incidents in Afghanistan between March and June of this year was 51% higher than during the same period last year.

It added that most of the incidents involved either armed clashes or IEDs.