At least 12 Afghan traders were killed and four others wounded in Afghanistan’s Farah province near the Iran border on Monday, after the vehicle they were traveling in was targeted by a roadside bomb. Correspondents quoting witnesses and officials later said the attack was meant to target Afghan or foreign troops.
The deadly home-made bombs planted by the wayside to target troops are commonplace in this strife torn region and frequently result in death of civilians and security forces.
Abdul Razzaq Samadi, a local tribal chief who was at the scene of the blast, told Reuters “I saw 12 men were killed and four were wounded.”
While claiming to have moved the four wounded men to a local hospital, Samadi added that their condition was critical.
The road, linking two districts in Farah province where the blast happened, is known for similar attacks launched by the Taliban to target convoys of foreign and government troops, Samadi said.
Confirming the blast Farah provincial governor Rohul Amin said the victims were Afghan traders who regularly travelled between the two districts to buy and sell goods.
With provincial and Presidential elections in Afghanistan looming over the immediate horizon, violence has hit its highest level since 2001.
According to UN figures released last month, nearly 800 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan between January and May, a 24 percent hop as compared to the same period in 2008.
The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan issued fresh tactical directive aimed at reducing the number of civilian casualties, earlier this month.
Correspondents say that the directives were meant to ease frictions – triggered by civilian deaths in air strikes – between the local government and its Western allies.
Separately, in Kunduz province, two civilians, including a child, were shot dead by German troops, when the soldiers opened fire to stop an advancing driver who refused to heed to warnings, say media reports citing an unnamed German forces spokesman in Afghanistan.
Abdul Wahed Omarkhel, chief of Kunduz province, confirmed the incident and said that the incident took place when Afghan and German soldiers were conducting operations, two civilians were also wounded.
Meanwhile, a soldier of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed in an improvised bomb attack in south Afghanistan, said Xinhua citing a troop press release issued in Kabul on Monday.
“An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member died yesterday (Sunday) as a result of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strike that occurred in southern Afghanistan,” the press release added.
The release, however, did not say the exact location of the incident, or the identity or nationality of the soldier.