Afghan official: Roadside bomb kills 11 in Kandahar province
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb in Afghanistan killed at least 11 people riding in a truck in the southern Kandahar province, provincial officials said Monday.
Ahmad Sadeq Essa, a deputy army spokesman in Kandahar, said that around 35 other civilians were wounded in the explosion in Khakrez district.
Yousof Younosi, a provincial council member in Kandahar, said that women and children were among those killed, but couldn’t provide an exact breakdown. He said some of the wounded were in critical condition. All the victims were members of the same family and their close relatives who were on their way to a shrine, he said.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but Younosi blamed the Taliban, who often use roadside bombs to target Afghan security forces in the province.
Essa, the army spokesman, said, “The army only has a mobile clinic in Khakrez, and right now they are trying to transfer the wounded people to the regional hospital in Kandahar city for further treatment.”
The violence comes despite stepped-up efforts by the United States to find a negotiated end to the country’s current 18-year war.
All-Afghan talks that brought together the country’s warring sides ended last week in Qatar’s capital, Doha, with a statement that appeared to move closer to peace by laying down the outlines of a roadmap for the country’s future.
The Taliban currently control nearly half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since the October 2001 U.S.-led invasion.
Both the Afghan and Taliban sides also agreed to do more to protect civilians. The United Nations has expressed growing concern over civilian deaths in the conflict, and has criticized all sides for rising casualty rates, including from stepped-up U.S. airstrikes.
So far, the Taliban have refused to talk directly with the current Afghan government, considering it a U.S. puppet. The insurgents, however, have consistently said they will sit down with any Afghan, even a government official, but as an ordinary citizen and not as a government representative.
Kandahar is the birthplace of the Taliban, and the insurgent group has a strong presence in the province.