Published: Thu, August 01, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

USA peace envoy for Afghanistan set to resume talks with Taliban

USA peace envoy for Afghanistan set to resume talks with Taliban

An Afghan official says a roadside bomb explosion hit a passenger bus in western Farha province, killing at least 18 people including women and children.

Bahir Ahmadi, the Kandahar governor's spokesman, also said the incident occurred at an Afghan army base.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but government officials have accused the Taliban of planting the bomb.

Emergency services were deployed to the scene after a bus containing mostly women and children hit a roadside bomb on Wednesday.

According to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), more than 1,415 civilians were killed or injured by landmines and leftover ordnance in Afghanistan previous year.

Victims of the blast were taken to neighbouring Herat province, while the wounded were evacuated to nearby police bases where they were given first aid.

This week US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump wants to begin withdrawing troops before the vote, though he emphasised in comments to reporters Tuesday that there is "no deadline".

An explosion ripped through a passenger bus on Herat-Kandahar highway killing or wounding at least 34 civilians earlier today.

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Afghan and foreign forces said civilians are hurt or killed during ground raids or air strikes as insurgents use them as human shields.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan presidency, put the death toll slightly higher at 34, also blaming it on the Taliban.

Wednesday's attack comes a day after a United Nations report was released documenting the almost 4,000 Afghan civilian casualties in in the first half of 2019 - 1,366 killed, 2,446 wounded.

Last month, the Taliban made a vague pledge to reduce civilian casualties.

"The fact remains that only a determined effort to avoid civilian harm, not just by abiding by worldwide humanitarian law but also by reducing the intensity of the fighting, will decrease the suffering of civilian Afghans", he said.

The attack comes just days after the start of campaigning for Afghanistan's September presidential election.

"Initial information was two U.S. forces have been killed and one more wounded", Qasam said.

Numbers are down by 27 percent so far this year, but children accounted for nearly a third of the overall total of civilian deaths and injuries.

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