KABUL: A roadside bomb planted by Taliban killed 17 civilians – mostly women and children – on their way to a wedding party inwestern Afghanistan on Friday, officials said.

Roadside bombs are the weapon of choice of the hardliners fighting Afghan forces and some 100,000 NATO troops, in an effort to topple the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Two NATO troops were also killed by one of the bombs in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, the International Security Assistance Force said, without giving further details.

While the Taliban say their targets are military, civilians using the same roads are frequently the victims.

Those killed in the latest blast were travelling in a minibus from one village to another for the celebrations when the explosion ripped through their vehicle in Farah province, provincial government spokesman Abdul Rahman Zhewandai said.
“The latest toll we have shows that 17 civilians, the majority of them women and children, were killed and 14 more were wounded,” said provincial police chief Aqa Noor Kintoz. “Among the wounded are nine women, one child and four men,” he said, blaming Taliban militants for planting the bomb.

In the first six months of 2012, a total of 1,145 Afghan civilians were killed and mostly roadside bombs, according to United Nations figures, wounded around 2,000.

Women and children accounted for about 30 percent of this year’s casualties.

Earlier this week a mother and her newborn baby were among six family members killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan.

The victims were heading home from the hospital after the mother had given birth when the bomb tore through their vehicle in eastern Khost province. On October 19, a bomb ripped through a minibus carrying guests to a wedding party in northern Balkh province, killing 19 people, while last week 10 guests died in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Taliban attacks have tended to focus on the south and the east of the country, with the north and the west escaping the worst of an insurgency that has raged for 11 years since the Islamists were ousted from power in a US-led invasion.

But as NATO forces have focused their attention on those regions, there has been an increase in attacks in other areas.

US-led NATO combat troops are due to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, leaving responsibility for security in the hands of Afghan security forces, but there are widespread fears that the violence will increase with their departure.

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