Kabul, April 1 (IANS) At least eight members of the same family were killed and two others injured on Wednesday after their vehicle was hit by a roadside explosion in Afghanistan’s restive southwestern province of Helmand, a police official told EFE.
Officials have blamed the blast on the Taliban, even as a delegation of the rebel group is currently in Kabul to hold negotiations with the government for a prisoner swap, as part of its historic peace agreement with the United States.
“In this blast, which hit a mini-van, eight members of a family were martyred and another two of the same family were injured,” Helmand Police spokesperson Zaman Hamdard told EFE.
The deceased include six children – four boys and a girl – apart from a man and a woman, who were traveling in the vehicle that was hit by the explosion around 10.30 a.m.(local time) on a public road in the Nahar-e-Saraj district.
The two injured people have been evacuated to a hospital for treatment, according to the spokesperson.
Hamdard alleged that the blast was the result of a landmine placed on the road by the Taliban to prevent the movement of Afghan troops.
However, the rebels were yet to claim or deny responsibility for the incident.
Placing landmines and other explosive devices on highways are a well-known Taliban tactic against the security forces and have often resulted in civilian casualties.
The explosion comes a day after the first official delegation of the Taliban arrived in the Afghan capital in the 19 years since the group was ousted from power by the US in 2001.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had said that the three-member “technical team” of the group was in Kabul to monitor the release of its members from the Bagram prison.
The February 29 peace deal between the US and the insurgents stipulated that the Afghan government, as a goodwill gesture, would release up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held by the insurgent group.
The prisoner release process is expected to pave the way for intra-Afghan talks between the government and the Taliban to discuss a comprehensive ceasefire that will eventually pave the way for a political solution to the 19-year long war in the country.