Roadside bomb kills 15 Afghan civilians

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - At least 15 Afghan civilians, including eight children and six women, were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in northern Kunduz province, local officials said on Wednesday.

As the conflicts between the foreign-backed Afghan government forces and Taliban insurgents has dragged on for more than 18 years, civilians usually bear the brunt of war with record numbers of casualties.

Mahbubullah Sayedi, the district chief of Imam Sahib, which was the scene of heavy fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents in recent months, said the incident occurred on a main road in the district.

“The families were on their way to a wedding ceremony when unfortunately their vehicle hit a roadside bomb that killed them,” Sayedi said.

The provincial governor, Abdul Jabar Naeemi, said the area where the incident happened is controlled by the Taliban, whom he blamed for the tragedy.

At least 3,812 civilians were killed and wounded in the first half of this year in violent incidents across the country. In the same period, 144 women and 327 children were killed and more than 1,000 more wounded, the U.N. said.

The report added that pro-government forces killed 717 Afghans and wounded 680 in the six months to June 30, a 31% increase from 2018.

Reporting by Sardar Razmal; Writing by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Giles Elgood