Roadside bomb kills nine civilians in southern Afghanistan

Updated Jun 04 2020

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No one claimed the Kandahar attack, but provincial police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai blamed the Taliban. — AFP/File
No one claimed the Kandahar attack, but provincial police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai blamed the Taliban. — AFP/File

KANDAHAR: A roadside bomb tore through a small bus in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing nine civilians including women and children, officials said.

The bombing, which occurred in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, came a day after a blast in a mosque in Kabul’s fortified Green Zone killed two people including a well-known imam.

Nine people died and five others were wounded when a roadside bomb struck their bus in Arghistan district of Kandahar province, provincial police spokesman Jamal Nasir Barekzai said.

Several victims were women and children, said Baheer Ahmad Ahmadi, spokesman to the provincial governor, who also confirmed the toll. No one claimed the Kandahar attack, but Barekzai blamed the Taliban.

In Kabul on Tuesday, an imam and a worshipper were killed in a prayer-time bombing at a popular mosque in the fortified Green Zone in Kabul.

That bombing, which the Taliban condemned, came a day after seven civilians were killed in the north of the country in a roadside bombing authorities blamed on the insurgents.

On Wednesday, the UN mission in Afghanistan said homemade bombs used by the Taliban to target Afghan security forces have killed at least 10 civilians in the past two days. The UN urged the militants to “stop using these illegal improvised mines”.

Despite these attacks, overall violence across much of Afghanistan has dropped since May 24 when the Taliban instigated a rare three-day ceasefire to mark the Eidul Fitr holiday.

Officials have acknowledged a lull in violence, though they blamed the militants for some deadly attacks in recent days. Before the ceasefire, violence had surged since the Taliban signed a landmark agreement with the United States in February.

The deal paves the way for the withdrawal of all foreign forces by May next year.A bomb exploded inside a mosque in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday killing two people, including the mosque’s prayer leader, and wounding two others an official said. Tariq Arian, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, said the bomb targeted the Wazir Akber Khan Mosque at around 7:25pm, when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers. The mosque is located in a high-security diplomatic area near the offices of several international organisations and embassies.Taliban insurgents have never carried out an attack inside of a mosque.

Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was one of the two people killed in Tuesday’s attack, Arian said. He was wounded in the explosion and died later at a hospital.

Niazi was a well known cleric who was active as Friday prayer leader at the mosque. He was also a Kabul University professor in the Islamic Law department.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, tweeted that the government strongly condemned the attack, saying it reveals the brutality and inhumanity of those who purposefully perpetrate violence against our Ulema and innocent people.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020