KANDAHAR: A Taliban roadside bomb tore through a civilian vehicle in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing nine children and four women, police said.

The bombing in the troubled province's Dihrawud district comes a day after a similar incident killed eight civilians in the neighbouring province of Helmand and while US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was holding talks in Kabul.

The blast hit a station wagon travelling on a dirt road in Uruzgan province, provincial police spokesman Farid Ail told AFP.

“There are 13 people dead: nine children and four women,” he said. Two others were injured, he added.

Ail blamed the incident on “Taliban, the enemies of our people who plant bombs on our public roads to kill our innocent children and women.”

The rebels, most active in southern and eastern parts of the war-scarred country, mainly use improvised explosive devices and suicide bomb attacks. The crude devices are aimed at Afghan and Nato security forces but often miss their targets and hit civilians using the same roads.

The number of civilians killed has risen steadily each year for the past five years, reaching a record of 3,021 in 2011, according to UN statistics.