Sun, 31 May 2020

At least eight civilians, mostly children, were killed when their vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's southern province of Helmand.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the civilians were traveling in a minivan in Helmand's Gereshk district on April 1 when the blast occurred.

Two other civilians were wounded in the attack. Zwak said the casualty figures could rise.

The victims were all from a single family, according to Helmand police spokesman Zaman Hamdard, who said six of the dead were children.

Provincial councilor Abdul Majid Akhundzada also confirmed the death toll.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and Islamic State militants are active in the province.

Government forces only control the capital, Lashkar Gah and five other districts out of a total of 14 districts in the province. The Taliban controls the remaining territory, including the Gereshk district.

More than 100,000 civilians have lost their lives in the war-torn country since 2009, according to the United Nations' Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

U.S.-led international forces have been operating in the country since the Taliban regime collapsed in 2001.

Washington signed a deal with the Taliban last month that sees the gradual withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan with the expectation that intra-Afghan peace talks will follow.

With reporting by by AP, dpa, and tolonews.com

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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