KANDAHAR: Eight civilians including five women were killed when a roadside bomb blew up their vehicle in southern Afghanistan, local officials said yesterday.
The United Nations said this week that the Afghan war was inflicting an increasingly devastating toll on civilians, with the number of casualties rising by almost a quarter in the first half of this year.
“They were travelling from Pajwai district to Kandahar City to visit a doctor and do some shopping for the upcoming Eid Al Fitr (Muslim holiday),” said Dawa Khan Minapal, a spokesman for provincial governor.
“But their vehicle was targeted by a roadside bomb freshly planted by the Taliban and this tragedy happened.”
He added: “Their dead bodies are still in the area and police have already transferred two wounded children from the site to a provincial hospital”.
An interior ministry statement confirmed the blast and said the victims belonged to one family.
The incident took place days after the Taliban ordered their men to avoid targeting civilians.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but roadside bombs are a common weapon used by the Taliban, though attacks that kill civilians often go unclaimed.
In a similar incident in the eastern city of Jalalabad two people were killed when a remote control bomb went off.
The target was an army vehicle but it escaped unharmed, said Abdul Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
According to a UN report released Wednesday, civilian casualties in Afghanistan soared by 24 percent to 4,853 in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.
Ground combat is now causing more deaths and injuries than improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in a worrying sign of spreading conflict, the UN report said, with women and children increasingly caught in the crossfire.
The grim figures underline the fragile security situation Afghanistan faces as it wrestles with political turmoil over its disputed presidential election, with most foreign forces due to withdraw by the end of the year.