Fri, Aug 19, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Afghan official says at least 20 killed by roadside bomb


A roadside bomb killed at least 20 passengers traveling on a minibus yesterday in western Afghanistan, another example of civilians being caught in the crossfire of the fighting between Taliban insurgents and the US-led coalition.

In the country’s east, a suicide car bomber attacked a coalition base, killing two Afghan security guards, officials said, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

A minibus ran over a roadside bomb in Obe District in Herat Province, setting off a blast that killed at least 20 of the 25 passengers, said Raouf Ahmadi, a police spokesman for several provinces in western Afghanistan.

Abdul Bashir, an elder of a village in the district, put the death toll at 23.

“It was a big, powerful blast,” Bashir said. “Among the dead are men, women and children. The bodies are not easily recognizable.”

Mohyuddin Noori, a spokesman for the province’s governor, said the bus was on its way to a bazaar where the passengers were going to shop.

Noori also said that a small truck hit another roadside bomb yesterday morning in the same district, seriously wounding at least four civilians.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide car bombing at a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) base that the US operates near Gardez, the capital of Paktia Province. There are more than 20 PRTs across Afghanistan, where international civilian and military workers train Afghan government officials and help with local development projects.

Abdul Ihay Atrafi, an Afghan Border Police commander for several provinces in southeast Afghanistan, said the bomber hid the explosives in a truck loaded with wood. The bomber sped through an outer gate, then blew up the vehicle when he came under fire at a second gate, Atrafi said.

He said several people also were wounded in the explosion, which occurred shortly before 7am local time at the base 100km south of Kabul.

“It was a very powerful explosion because it was a truck,” Atrafi said, adding that the blast caused extensive damage and shattered windows nearby.

Army Master Sergeant Nicholas Conner, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, said two Afghan security guards died in the explosion. There were no NATO causalities, he said.

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