Roadside bomb kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan: official

Roadside bomb kills 15 civilians in Afghanistan: official

A truck carrying the people was on its way from Khair Abad village to Khansheen district centre in Helmand province when it was hit by a home-made device late last night, 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 increasingly deadly 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. The pick-up truck was carrying civilians when it was hit by the bomb in the rural district of the province, one of the worst hit in the insurgency.

Ahmadi said the "barbaric attack" was the work of "enemies of Afghanistan," a term often used to refer to Taliban insurgents. The insurgents principally use suicide attacks and home-made 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 of the country.

US and NATO forces hope to bring the number of Afghan soldiers up to 170,000 personnel along with 134,000 policemen by October next year. US military leaders back the government's plan for the Afghan police and army to assume responsibility for security by 2014, with the timetable agreed at a landmark NATO summit in Lisbon last month.