Afghan Blast Kills Five from Same Family


Five members of the same family were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb ripped through their minivan in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, an official said.

The incident happened in Gereshk, a volatile district of Helmand province, as the family traveled to Helmand's main town Lashkar Gah, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.

"At around 10:00 am this morning, a minivan struck a roadside bomb killing three women and two men who were members of one family," Ahmadi said.

Although the attack bore the hallmarks of the Taliban, who frequently plant roadside bombs in Afghanistan's restive regions, the insurgents were unreachable to comment on the attack.

Meanwhile, officials in central Afghanistan said they had detained three people after five police and three members of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence agency were abducted Thursday and found dead a day later.

The men were kidnapped in the Day Mirdad district of Wardak province, near where the Taliban downed a U.S. helicopter last week killing 38 people.

They were traveling on the main road to the neighboring province of Bamiyan, the Wardak governor's office said in a statement.

Civilians are the biggest casualties in the decade-long war in Afghanistan, where around 140,000 foreign forces are stationed.

The year 2010 was the bloodiest yet for civilians, with the United Nations recording 2,777 fatalities.

A total of 1,462 civilians were also killed in the first half of 2011, according to U.N. figures -- an increase of 15 percent over last year, with insurgent attacks blamed for 80 percent of fatalities overall.

However, the Taliban also frequently target officials working for the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Limited withdrawals of foreign forces from Afghanistan have already started ahead of a deadline for all international combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

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