South Asia News
Bombs kill 16, injure 51 in southern Afghanistan (Roundup)
Mar 31, 2010, 14:03 GMT
Kabul - A bicycle bomb in southern Afghanistan killed 13 civilians and wounded 45 others Wednesday, while three civilians were killed by an explosion in the western region, officials said.
The first explosion occurred in Nahri Sarraj, a district north of Lashkarga, the capital city of the southern province of Helmand, the provincial governor's spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.
'Thirteen innocent civilians were killed in the attack that happened in Malgir market of the district,' Ahmadi told German Press Agency dpa. He said 45 other people, including a police officer and eight children were injured in the blast.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai 'strongly condemned the attack' and called the perpetrators 'criminals, who are the enemies of Afghan people and Islam.'
The Interior Ministry said the bomb was detonated by remote control. The ministry and a regional police official had earlier provided conflicting casualty reports, but Ahmadi said his figures were provided by a team of investigators at the site.
NATO soldiers reported that more than 35 civilians were wounded in the explosion, many of them seriously.
No group immediately took responsibility.
Ahmadi said the explosion happened in a local market, where dozens of farmers had gathered from several villages.
The ministry statement blamed 'enemies of peace and stability,' a common term used by Afghan officials to describe Taliban militants.
The insurgents are most active in Helmand province, which has been the scene of the largest military offensive this year.
The province is also the largest producer of opium - the raw ingredient of heroin - in the country. Afghanistan supplies more than 90 per cent of the world's opiates.
In the western province of Herat, three civilians were killed and six wounded when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Adraskan district Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said.
Afghan civilians often fall victim to Taliban roadside bombs that are intended for military targets.
Around 380 civilians were killed in first two months of this year. More than 2,400 civilians died in the conflict last year, according to the United Nations.