| ||Bomb Kills 17 Civilians in Afghanistan|
The New York Times
By al Alissa J. Rubin and Timoor Shah
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KABUL - A roadside bomb killed 17 civilians, most of them women and children, on Friday as they traveled to a wedding in western Afghanistan. It was the third time in less than 10 days that a bomb claimed the lives of civilians.
The minivan the group was traveling in hit an improvised explosive device buried in a dirt road in Farah Province, said Abdul Rahman Zawandai, the spokesman for the provincial governor. Nine others in the group were wounded in the blast, including five women and two children.
The area is near a small village named Missezai and is heavily patrolled by Afghan National Army soldiers, the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Local Police, who may have been the intended target, Mr. Zawandai said.
Mohammad Nazir Khidmat, the provincial council chairman, said, “This is the work of the enemies of peace.”
The Taliban frequently plant bombs in this area as a way to kill government officials or members of the Afghan security forces, but, as was the case on Friday, “they bring more casualties to civilians,” Mr. Khidmat said.
On Nov. 10, a roadside bomb attack similar to the one in Farah killed six members of a family returning from a hospital in Khost Province after the birth of a child. The newborn was among the dead. On Nov. 8, a roadside bomb hit a pickup truck in the Musa Qala district of Helmand Province, killing 10 civilians, including five women and a child.
The Taliban and other antigovernment fighters are responsible for about 80 percent of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, many of which are the result of improvised explosive devices that cause about a third of all the deaths and injuries, according to a midyear report on the conflict by the United Nations. In the first six months of 2012, more than 3,000 civilian deaths and injuries related to the conflict were reported in Afghanistan.
Farah, a province in western Afghanistan, has never had a major contingent of international forces stationed there, and the Taliban have found it easy to move around. Their numbers rose in the past two years as some insurgents from neighboring Helmand Province, which was focus of international efforts during the surge in troop strength, relocated to Farah, Afghan security officials said.
In Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan on Friday, two children were wounded in the Panjwai district, and a member of the Afghan police was killed nearby, according to Afghan officials.
One child was hurt when he was hit by a stray bullet during a firefight between Taliban fighters and the Afghan police. The other child, a 15-year old boy, Abdul Khaliq, was wounded as he returned to his home, which he and his family had fled months before because of fighting nearby. As he was walking through the house, checking for damage, he stepped on a bomb that appeared to have been planted by insurgents, said Hajji Mahmood, the chief of the Panjwai Shura Council.
He lost an arm and a leg in the blast, said Jawad Faisal, the spokesman for the provincial governor. Afghan National Army soldiers rushed to the scene and took the boy to an Afghan military hospital.
The Taliban frequently booby-trap abandoned homes in areas where they are fighting so that the houses cannot be used by Afghan or coalition forces.
In the same area of Panjwai, a roadside bomb struck a police vehicle on Friday, killing one member of the Afghan National Police and wounding another.
Alissa J. Rubin reported from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting from Kabul.