Foreign tourists being escorted by an army convoy in western Afghanistan have been ambushed by gunmen in an attack that left at least seven people wounded, Afghan officials say.
Twelve tourists from the UK, the US and Germany were attacked in the Chesht-e-Sharif district of Herat on Thursday while on their way to the province from Bamiyan and Ghor.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement. Qari Yousef Ahmadi, Taliban spokesman, said the foreigners were killed – a claim the governor’s office denied.
“A group of Taliban fighters conducted the attack on the tourists, injuring at least six,” Jalani Farhad, spokesman for the Herat governor, told Al Jazeera. “However, no one is dead.”
The Afghan driver was also injured, he said.
Al Jazeera’s Qais Azimy, reporting from the capital Kabul, said the tourists’ vehicle had been hit by an RPG.
He described the convoy’s route as a “dangerous one”, adding that “even Afghans would avoid travelling on that road.
“This journey is three days long by road, and most of it is controlled by warlords, thieves and, of course, the Taliban,” our correspondent said.
“All these things are raising lots of questions; why did these foreigners, in the first place, decide to travel on that road,” he said, adding that “no embassy, in no country, would recommend to their citizens to take that road. Everyone knows about the risk.”
Several foreign tourism companies advertise adventure tours to Afghanistan online, including one British firm which had a trip scheduled to the area in Herat this week.
Western embassies typically warn their citizens against all travel in Afghanistan, citing threats of attacks and kidnapping.
Both Bamiyan and Herat host several archaeological sites in the country.
The world’s largest Buddha statue in Bamiyan was destroyed by the Taliban in early 2001.
With reporting by Shereena Qazi: @