A roadside bomb has killed 17 civilians in western Afghanistan, most of them women and children aboard a minibus returning from a wedding party in Farah province.

"The latest toll we have shows that 17 civilians, the majority of them women and children, were killed and 14 more were wounded," said Aqa Noor Kintoz, the provincial police chief.

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The wounded included nine women and one child, he said.

"Up to now we have recovered 12 wounded and two martyred from the blast scene. Four women and two children
are among the wounded. All the wounded victims are now being treated at the hospital", Abdul Jabar Shayed, head of Farah public health told the Reuters news agency.

The mid-afternoon bombing took place in the relatively quiet province when a procession of vehicles following the bride and groom were passing a rural road. Though no group has taken reponsibility for the attack, local officials blame the Taliban.

"The Taliban are responsible for this. They want to create fear by staging such attacks," said Abdul Rahman Zwandai, a spokesman for the provincial government.

Hamid Karzai, Afghan president, denounced the explosion, saying "our people want to live in joy and happiness."

Friday's blast took the total toll among wedding guests on the roads to 46 in less than a month.

In the first six months of 2012, a total of 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and around 2,000 were wounded, mostly by roadside bombs, according to United Nations figures. Women and children accounted for about 30 per cent of this year's casualties.

Last year, the number of civilians killed rose for the fifth straight year to more than 3,000,according to the United Nations.

Earlier this week a mother and her newborn baby were among six family members killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan.

Source: Agencies