Roadside bombs kill 24 in western Afghanistan

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 18, 2011 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Roadside bombs struck two minibuses Thursday, killing 24 people and wounding 11 in western province of Herat, Afghan officials said.

The incident occurred when the minibuses, packed with passengers including women and children, were traveling from Obe district to the city of Herat, the provincial capital.

Herat, which borders Iran and Turkmenistan, had been relatively peaceful, and U.S.-led NATO forces handed over control of security operations in the provincial capital to Afghan forces last month as part of the security transition process.

A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that two land mines placed by "enemies of the Afghan people" struck the minibuses at 8:30 Thursday morning.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but Abdul Raouf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the regional police, blamed anti-government Taliban insurgents. Roadside bombs are among the Taliban's deadliest weapons.

“This is the work of the Taliban and other anti-government groups," Ahmadi said, adding that the bombs had been freshly planted.

The victims were on their way to Herat city for shopping for the Eid holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in two weeks.

The U.S.-led military coalition, the International Security Assistance Force, said that children and five women were among the dead.

"Insurgents plan attacks such as these without regard for the civilians they kill, looking for the attention of the media," said Rear Adm. Hal Pittman, an ISAF spokesman.

Taliban insurgents have stepped up attacks on NATO and Afghan forces across the country. Also on Thursday morning, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle filled with explosives at the gate of a U.S. military base in the eastern province of Paktia and killed two Afghan guards, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The ISAF said there were no casualties among the force.

Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.

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