KABUL — A roadside bomb explosion has hit a passenger bus in the western Afghan province of Farah, killing at least 34 civilians and wounding 17 others, officials say.
Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the bus was travelling on the Kandahar-Herat highway in the Bala Buluk district when it hit a ‘Taliban roadside bomb’ on the morning on July 31.
Sediq Sediqi, a spokesman for the Afghan government, also blamed the Taliban, which did not immediately confirm it was behind the explosion.
Taliban fighters are active in the area and use roadside bombs to target government officials and Afghan security forces.
The dead included women and children, Mohib said, adding that ambulances have taken victims to hospitals in Farah and Herat provinces.
In a report published on July 30, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that civilians were being killed and wounded at a ‘shocking’ level in Afghanistan’s conflict.
Casualties have dropped 27 percent in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, which was a record.
Nonetheless 1,366 civilians were killed and another 2,446 injured during the period, UNAMA said.
The bloodshed comes amid a months-long, U.S.-led push to forge a deal with the Taliban to end the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.
The militant group controls or contests around half of Afghanistan, more territory than at any time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 ousted the group from power.