|A suicide car bomb blast in Kandahar city killed three Afghan police officers on Monday [Reuters]|
At least 14 Afghan civilians, including women and children, have been killed in a roadside bombing in the southern Helmand province.
The bomb struck a minibus travelling on the main road that connects the Sangin district to the major city of Kandahar on Thursday. Several civilians were also wounded.
Ghulam Haidar, who said two of his brothers died in the attack, told the Associated Press news agency that the bus was transporting residents to a nearby market.
“There was a huge blast … body parts were scattered far away,” he said.
Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand provincial government, blamed the Taliban for the attack. The Taliban denied that allegation.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, condemned the attack, calling it a “bloodthirsty” act committed by “enemies of Afghanistan.”
The UN and NATO also expressed condemnation.
Helmand is one of Afghanistan’s most violent provinces, suffering around 219 per cent more attacks by fighters in 2010 than it did in 2009.
A third of the UK troops who have died fighting in the Afghan war have died in the Sangin area. Britain handed over control of the area to US troops in September.
Thursday’s attack was the second bombing in southern Afghanistan this week. On Monday, a suicide bomber killed three Afghan police officers in Kandahar city.
Last week, a firefight between fighters and NATO forces in Sangin left five civilians and seven anti-government fighters dead.