KANDAHAR, (AFP) — A roadside bomb attack blamed on Taliban militants killed 15 civilians, including children, in southern Afghanistan and a car bomb wounded six people, officials said on Saturday.
The Taliban have been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency after they were ousted from government in 2001 by a US-led invasion, with the south and east of the war-torn country taking the brunt of the violence.
The 15 died when the truck they were travelling in from Khair Abad village to Khansheen district in Helmand province was hit by a homemade device late Friday, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP.
“The blast killed 15 civilians and wounded another four,” he said, adding that children were among the dead.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are crude, cheaply made and difficult to detect, have become the weapon of choice for Taliban militants in their nine-year insurgency against Afghan and NATO forces.
The number of ordinary Afghans killed in the conflict rose by a third in the first six months of 2010 to 1,271, with most deaths caused by insurgent attacks, the UN said in August.
Ahmadi said the “barbaric attack” was the work of “enemies of Afghanistan”, a term often used to refer to Taliban insurgents.
On Saturday, a car bomb went off close to police headquarters in Kandahar city, also in the south, wounding four policemen and two civilians.
“There was a car bomb explosion at the car park of Kandahar city police headquarters. Four policemen and two civilians are wounded in the blast,” provincial spokesman Zalmai Ayobi told AFP.
Kandahar is the spiritual home of the Taliban and the birthplace of their one-eyed fugitive leader mullah Mohammad Omar.
Heavy dust and smoke shrouded the area and roads near the scene of the blast were cordoned off by police, local TV reported.
An AFP reporter from the area said the explosion was “huge” and rocked the whole neighbourhood.
“The blast has created a massive crater and many police vehicles are damaged,” said the reporter.
The explosion shattered glass in buildings in the area, which has seen many explosions in recent years.
Mohammad Ibrahim, a doctor at the provincial public health hospital, said they had received six wounded — two children and four policemen.
Separately, in the north of the country, a suicide attacker drove a stolen police pick-up truck packed with explosives into an army checkpost in Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province.
“Four soldiers and four civilians were wounded in the suicide attack,” Abdul Rehmand Aqtash, deputy provincial police chief, told AFP.
Insurgents principally use suicide attacks and homemade bombs to attack Afghan security forces and more than 140,000 US-led troops fighting the counter-insurgency campaign mostly in the south and east.
US military leaders back the government’s plan for Afghan police and army to assume responsibility for security by 2014, with the timetable agreed at a major NATO summit in Lisbon last month.