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Afghan roadside bombing kills eight civilians

Kabul, Oct 31, 2012, (AFP) 15:38 IST
Eight civilians including seven women were killed in an insurgent roadside bombing in the southern Afghan province of Helmand today, the interior ministry said.

Two others, a woman and a man, were wounded in the attack in Musa Qala district, the ministry said in a statement, blaming the Taliban.

"Eight of our civilian compatriots, seven women and a man, were killed today when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb planted by the Taliban terrorists," the statement said.

Roadside bombs, also known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), are the deadliest insurgent weapon in Afghanistan both for the military fighting the Taliban and civilians.

The crude devices, often built on old ammunition, are planted by the side of roads to target NATO and Afghan troops battling the Taliban insurgency aimed at bringing down Kabul's Western-backed government, but they also kill civilians travelling on the same roads.

The United Nations says 1,145 civilians were killed in the Afghan war in the first six months of this year, blaming 80 percent of the deaths on insurgents, with more than half caused by roadside bombs.

Last year, a record 3,021 civilians died in the war, the UN has said, and this year around 30 per cent of casualties have been women and children. Most of them were victims of roadside bombs.

The UN blames insurgents for 80 per cent of the civilian casualties in 2012, saying pro-government forces, which include US-led NATO, were responsible for 10 per cent.

On October 19 a bomb ripped through a minibus carrying guests to a wedding in the northern province of Balkh, killing 19 people.

A day after the Balkh blast, the UN urged the Taliban leadership to enforce their ban on IEDs, announced by the militants' one-eyed leader Mullah Omar in 1998.

IEDs are responsible for a large percentage of deaths among the NATO force helping fight the Taliban.

Foreign combat troops are due to withdraw by the end of 2014 and there are fears that the Taliban will extend their activities across wider swathes of the country against ill-prepared Afghan forces.

On Friday a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform killed 42 people, including five children, and wounded 50 more at a mosque in northern Faryab province after prayers for the festival of Eid-ul-Adha.

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