At least 73 people have been killed and dozens of others injured after two passenger buses and a fuel tanker burst into flames following a head-on collision in eastern Afghanistan.

Many of the dead, including children, were burned beyond recognition as a result of Sunday's accident in Ghazni province, near the Afghan capital Kabul.

Jawid Salangi, a spokesman for the governor of Ghazni, said the two buses, carrying about 125 passengers from Kabul to Kandahar, collided with the tanker, setting off a fire that quickly engulfed all three vehicles.

Afghan army units went to the scene of the accident in Moqor district and managed to save some passengers, but many of the injured were in a critical condition, he said.

'Speeding to avoid Taliban'

Al Jazeera's Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said the drivers were most probably speeding to avoid attacks by the Taliban at the time of the accident.

"There are Taliban checkpoints on that road," he said. "It seems like the bus drivers and the tanker driver were trying to cross the most hostile part of that road as fast as they could.

"It looks like the bus driver was trying to avoid any Taliban checkpoints, and the tanker driver was trying not to be ambushed by the Taliban," he said.

"They were driving quite fast. That is what caused the accident."

In a separate development, six Taliban fighters were hanged at the Pul-e-Charkhi Prison in Kabul on Sunday.

The executions came only days after the Kabul government vowed to punish people convicted of terror charges.

Al Jazeera's Azimy said the executions would send a strong message to the Taliban.

"These executions show that the Afghan government is now opening a new chapter in the fight against the Taliban," he said. "It's the first time that we see a group of six Taliban members getting the death penalty.

"It kills all the hope for a political settlement with Taliban."

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies