30 civillians killed by roadside bomb in Afghanistan

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Local officials in southern Afghanistan say a roadside bomb blasted a passenger bus Tuesday, killing 30 civilians and wounding at least 39 others. The latest violence comes days after a UN report declared August the deadliest month of the year for civilians in Afghanistan.

Kandahar (February 2009)
Image: Ghamai.

The Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the latest attack outside the southern city of Kandahar. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident, which killed dozens of civilians, including women and children, who were riding on the bus.

Afghan presidential spokesman Humayoon Hamedzada said that the authorities are investigating the matter. "We are deeply sorry for the loss of life, but our provincial authorities and the security agencies have received instructions to complete the investigations," he said.

Lal Jan, one of the survivors from the explosion, described his experiences. "An explosion hit the bus. I don't know what happened. When I came to, I got out of the bus and saw that the bus was totally wrecked," he said.

Tuesday's explosion occurred just west of the city on a highway, where a similar blast killed three civilians a day earlier.

Provincial police chief Sardar Mohammad Zazai claimed that "the enemies of Afghanistan are planting mines on the main highway and killing innocent women and children." In a statement, the government said that "the mine was placed by enemies of the country."

An explosion hit the bus [...] When I came to, I got out of the bus and saw that the bus was totally wrecked.

—Lal Jan, survivor

Late last week, the United Nations issued a report that said it had recorded some 1,500 civilian casualties between January and August. August was this year's deadliest month, as the Taliban sought to discourage people from voting in the presidential election. The report also said almost three times as many civilian deaths were attributed to anti-government elements than to pro-government forces.

The spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan, US Army Colonel Wayne Shanks, said that NATO troops are working with local populations to clear the roads of Taliban bombs.

"Every time [the Taliban kills] innocent civilians, they are hurting themselves," Shanks said. "Just like if we make a mistake and we hurt innocent civilians, we are hurting ourselves. And we are trying to absolutely fix that."

Meanwhile in Pakistan, authorities say another suspected US missile strike targeted militants in South Waziristan. Officials believe the insurgents in Pakistan's tribal regions have ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda and use the area as a base of operations for strikes in Afghanistan against foreign troops.