18 Afghan civilians killed in blast (Lead)

July 29th, 2011 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, July 29 (IANS) Eighteen civilians were killed in a massive explosion when their mini-bus ran over a roadside bomb Friday morning in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, police said.

The incident took place in Nahri Sarraj district, 555 km south of Afghan capital Kabul.

“A civilian mini-bus was traveling from a village to Nahri Sarraj district’s bazaar. The bus (went over) a roadside bomb at around 8 a.m. Friday, triggering a powerful blast that left 18 civilians dead,” police officer Kamaluddin Shirzai told Xinhua, adding that several women and children were among the victims.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Helmand province has been regarded as a Taliban stronghold.

Taliban militants have used Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or roadside bombs and suicide bombers in their attacks which also inflicted casualties on civilians.

A total of 1,462 Afghan civilians were killed in the first half of 2011, a 15 percent rise over the same period of 2010, according to the United Nations mid-year report released in Kabul July 14.

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