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32 killed as passenger bus hit roadside bomb in Afghanistan

KABUL (Afghanistan): At least 32 passengers, mainly women and children, were killed in western Afghanistan when a bus hit a roadside bomb.

A spokesman for Farah province said Muhibullah Muhib said a passenger bus travelling on the Kandahar-Herat highway hit a “Taliban roadside bomb. At least 32 were killed and 17 wounded in the blast, he added.

He said that all the victims were civilians, mostly women and children. Farooq Barakzai, a spokesman for Farah’s governor, confirmed the toll but warned it might rise higher.

Taliban has not yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Taliban fighters operate in the region and frequently use roadside bombs to target government officials and security forces.

The blast came one day after the United Nations said civilians were being killed and wounded at a “shocking” level in Afghanistan’s war, despite a push to end the nearly 18-year-old conflict.

Casualties have dropped 27 percent in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, which was a record, but nonetheless, 1,366 civilians were killed and another 2,446 injured. The UN branded efforts to reduce the violence “insufficient”.

It also said that the United States and pro-government forces caused more civilian deaths than the Taliban and other armed groups for the second quarter running.

Child casualties represented almost one-third of the overall total of civilian casualties.

The bloodshed comes amid a months-long, US-led push to forge a peace deal with the Taliban that would see foreign forces quit the country in return for various security guarantees.