At least seven people including children were killed when a roadside bomb struck a vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, the latest civilian casualties which soared to a record high this year.
The explosion occurred late Saturday when the pickup truck was driving from Asadabad, the capital of Kunar province, to Nari district close to the border with Pakistan.
“Last evening a pickup truck, with women and children onboard, was blown up by a roadside bomb, that killed seven people including two little girls,” Nari police chief Mohammad Yousuf told AFP news agency.
He blamed the Taliban for the blast, which also left three women wounded.
Mohammad Rahman Danish, the district chief of Nari, confirmed the incident, which highlights worsening violence as US-led troops leave Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, but roadside bombs are the Taliban’s weapon of choice in their battle against the US-backed government and foreign forces, that also increasingly kill and wound civilians.
A UN report released on Friday said civilian casualties hit a record high this year, with 3,188 civilians killed and 6,429 injured by the end of November.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report warned that civilian casualties were expected to exceed 10,000 by the end of the year, making it the deadliest year for noncombatants since the organisation began issuing its authoritative reports in 2009.
Compared to 2013, this year also saw a 33 percent rise in casualties among children and a 12 percent increase among women.
While ground fighting between troops and armed groups and Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained leading causes of deaths and injuries, the Taliban were accountable for 75 percent of all civilian casualties, the report said.
NATO is wrapping up its combat operations on December 31, but a follow-up mission of about 12,500 US-led NATO troops will stay on in Afghanistan to train and support the local security forces now responsible for fighting the Taliban.