By Farhad Naibkhel
Kabul: At least 34 passengers, mostly women and children, were killed and another 16 wounded after a roadside bomb ripped through their bus on Wednesday morning in the western Farah province.
The provincial police spokesman, Muhibullah Muhib, said that a 303 Mercedes bus hit a landmine placed by the Taliban on Farah Highway in Aab Khorma area of Balablok district at around 6:00am early in the morning.
The bombing resulted in the killing of 34 passengers, majority of them being women and children, Muhib said, adding 16 others received injuries during the incident.
Shortly after the blast, army and police forces arrived at the area and shifted the wounded people to Herat and Farah hospitals for treatment.
The number of civilian casualties in nearly two decades of the Afghan conflict remains extremely high as roadside bombs are considered one of the contributing factors to civilian casualties. The Taliban mostly use landmines to target Afghan and foreign forces but unfortunately it is almost always civilians who fall victim to such bombs.
The incident took place while the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its half year report released on Tuesday said that the conflict in Afghanistan continued to have a devastating impact on civilians as the latest UN update documented 3,812 civilian casualties (1,366 deaths and 2,446 injured) in the first half of 2019.
While the number of civilians killed and injured is 27 percent down from the same period in 2018 –the year that saw record high numbers of recorded civilian casualties– the UN noted with concern disturbing patterns such as the 27 percent increase in civilian deaths in the second quarter of 2019 compared with the first.
The UN welcomed the reduction in civilian casualties in the 1 January-30 June 2019 period but continued to regard the level of harm done to civilians as shocking and unacceptable. UNAMA acknowledged that parties had announced efforts to reduce civilian casualties but they were insufficient and more must be done.
The UN supported the demand from all parties to reduce civilian casualties to zero which was made in the joint declaration by Afghan participants from the 7-8 July Intra-Afghan Dialogue held in the Qatari capital city of Doha.