KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bomb killed 18 civilians Sunday, mostly women and children, after it struck a small bus coming from a wedding in a lawless district of eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, police said.
Col. Asadullah Ensafi, the deputy provincial police chief, said the blast occurred in the Andar district as the bus traveled from one village to another just before dusk.
He said the dead included 14 women, three men and a child. Col. Ensafi said the blast wounded five women, two of whom were in critical condition.
Col. Ensafi said he had no other details, as the remote area was not easily accessible to security forces.
Andar is one of the few districts in Ghazni in which the Taliban retain some measure of control and often attack security forces, mostly by laying bombs along roads.
Roadside bombs are the Taliban's weapon of choice and are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.
The United Nations said that in the first six months of this year 1,319 civilians were killed and 2,533 were wounded in the ongoing 12-year Afghan conflict, the majority of them by roadside bombs.
Earlier Sunday, a bomb apparently targeting a group of soldiers killed a civilian in a market in the capital, Kabul.
Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman, said the bomb went off as military personnel waited for a vehicle to take them to work. He said five soldiers were wounded.
A man who identified himself as Ziaudin said his 10-year-old daughter was killed. A witness, Hashmatullah, said four civilians were wounded in addition to the soldiers. He said the bomb was placed under vegetables in a shop.
Like many Afghans, the two men use only one name.
There has been a spike in violence around Afghanistan in recent months as the insurgents try to take advantage of a security handover from foreign forces to the Afghans. The handover is the latest step in the gradual withdrawal of troops from the U.S.-led international military coalition, which will be completed at the end of 2014.
• Associated Press writer Patrick Quinn contributed to this report.