Afghan bomb kills at least eight, UN slams high civilian deaths

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (AP) — A powerful car bomb killed at least eight people and injured 47 in Afghanistan’s western Herat province, officials said yesterday.

The death toll in the explosion late Friday that also destroyed 14 houses is expected to rise because several of the injured were critical, said spokesman for the provincial hospital Rafiq Sherzai.

One among the dead and 11 of the injured were Afghan Security Forces personnel while the remainder were civilians, including women and children, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.

No one has claimed responsibility. Within hours of the attack, the United Nations (UN) Security Council at a press briefing in New York condemned an “alarming” increase in attacks in Afghanistan targetting civilians even as the Taleban and the Afghan government hold on-again-off-again talks in Qatar.

“These heinous attacks have targetted civil servants, the judiciary, the media, healthcare and humanitarian workers, including women in prominent positions, those who protect and promote human rights, and ethnic and religious minorities,” the council said.

The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for many of the targetted killings while the Taleban and the government have blamed each other for trying to sabotage efforts to reach a peace agreement.

The slow pace of talks and the increasing violence has prompted the United States (US) to cobble together a peace proposal, which was delivered last weekend. Both sides are expected to review and revise the eight-page plan ahead of a far-reaching meeting the US has proposed to be held in Turkey within weeks, when Washington hopes to see an agreement.