Afghan roadside bomb kills 10 civilians: officials
A bomb killed 10 civilians including women and children in southern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, in the latest violence since the Taliban launched their annual "spring offensive".
"The blast hit a pick-up truck in the Arghistan district of Kandahar province, killing four women, three men and three children," Abdul Raziq, Kandahar provincial police chief, told AFP.
Raziq said the victims were travelling to the funeral of two people who were killed by a similar blast a few days ago.
"A motorbike earlier hit a roadside bomb that killed two people, and today's victims were travelling to attend that funeral when unfortunately their vehicle struck another bomb," he said.
Javed Faisal, Kandahar provincial governor spokesman, told AFP: "Tragically, we have ten dead. All the victims are civilians.
"The bomb was planted by Taliban insurgents in a district that borders Pakistan, and civilians are often the victim of these bombs," Faisal said.
The Taliban, who are fighting to oust the US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, deny targeting civilians.
The militants' annual offensive, announced on April 27, opened a crucial period for Afghanistan as its security forces take the lead in offensives against the insurgents.
No large-scale attacks have yet been launched, but five US troops died in a Taliban bomb blast also in Kandahar and a Taliban bomb killed eight Afghan police in Logar province.
All NATO combat missions will finish by the end of next year and the 100,000 foreign troops deployed across Afghanistan have already begun to withdraw from the battlefield.
More than a decade after the Taliban government was toppled in 2001, Afghanistan remains in the grip of a violent insurgency with militants launching daily strikes on government officials, police and international and Afghan soldiers.
As Afghanistan's inexperienced security forces are taking over responsibility for fighting the Taliban, fears are growing that the country could tip into civil war after NATO military operations cease next year.