Dozens of civilians, mostly women and children, killed in Afghan bus bombing

Dozens of civilians, mostly women and children, killed in Afghan bus bombing
Women and children were among those killed in the bus bombing.
2 min read
31 July, 2019
Farah province has been hit by numerous insurgent attacks [Getty-file photo]

Dozens of civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday when a bus they were travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb, blamed on the Taliban.

"A passenger bus travelling on the Kandahar-Herat highway hit a Taliban roadside bomb. So far at least 28 killed, 10 wounded," said Muhibullah Muhib, the spokesman for Farah province.

All the victims were civilians, mostly women and children, he said. 

A spokesman for the Afghan presidency, Sediq Sediqqi, put the toll at 34 killed and 17 wounded, and also blamed on the Taliban for the attack.

The Taliban, which has led an insurgency in Afghanistan since it was toppled by the US in 2001, did make a vague pledge this month to reduce civilian casualties. 

Civilians have paid the biggest prince in the nearly 18-year war. 

Casualties have dropped in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, which was a record - but nonetheless 1,366 civilians were killed and another 2,446 injured.

Child casualties represented almost a third of the overall total of civilian casualties.

The UN also said that the US and pro-government forces caused more civilian deaths than the Taliban and other insurgent groups for the second quarter running.

It branded efforts to reduce the violence "insufficient".

The US fears that with official campaigning for Afghanistan's presidential election, set for September 28, now underway, violence will intensify.

At least 20 people were killed on Sunday, the first official day of the campaign, and 50 wounded when a suicide attacker and gunmen attacked the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's running mate, Amrullah Saleh, in Kabul.

The US has meanwhile held talks with the Taliban in Kabul to try and establish a peace deal before the elections take place.

With no agreement yet, there are also doubts whether the election will happen at all, which follows several delays.

This week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump wants to begin withdrawing troops before the vote, though he said there is "no deadline".  

But the announcement has ignited concerns of a rushed exit by the US, which could strengthen groups such as the Taliban and the Islamic State group.