The latest blast is part of a pattern of escalating violence in formerly peaceful western Afghanistan [GALLO/GETTY] 

A roadside bomb has killed 14 civilians and injured four others in western Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the governor of Herat province said the civilians died when their minibus was hit by the bomb in Kesh-e Kohna district of Herat province near the border with Turkmenistan on Thursday.

"The military forces have reached the site and they say that 14 people have been killed and 4 wounded," the spokesman said by telephone from Herat.

The victims may have been part of an extended family heading for a pre-engagement party, he said.

The casualties on Thursday are part of a wider pattern of escalating violence in a formerly peaceful part of the country.

The latest blast came days after a similar homemade bomb in the south of the country killed 15 people, and six Afghan soldiers died in separate NATO air strikes that were meant to target Taliban fighters.

On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of worsening violence in Afghanistan in 2011 and said reaching Afghans who needed help was harder now than it had been at any time in the past 30 years.

Source: Agencies