Nine children among 19 Afghans killed in blast

KABUL - A roadside bomb killed at least 19 Afghan civilians including nine children in a southern province, while Taleban fighters in the north captured a key district in the battle for Kunduz city, officials said yesterday.

Violence has spiralled up in Afghanistan since most of the foreign forces left at the end of last year. Insurgents are pushing to take territory from the Nato-trained Afghan security forces more than 13 years after the United States-led military intervention toppled the Taleban.

In the southern province of Helmand, police official Haji Janan Aqa said 19 people, including nine children and eight women, were killed on Saturday. He said five people were wounded.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing. The Taleban typically deny targeting civilians, although their tactic of planting roadside bombs has been harshly criticised by the United Nations.

In the north, officials said Taleban forces advancing on the provincial capital of Kunduz on Saturday evening, captured the outlying district of Chardara.

Heavy fighting was ongoing yesterday just 3km away from the governor's compound, said Mr Hamdullah Danishi, a deputy governor of Kunduz province.

Security officials held a meeting early yesterday to plan a counter-offensive.

The fall of Kunduz would be a major setback for the Afghan government, which has been fighting a resilient Taleban insurgency since the US-led intervention. REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'Nine children among 19 Afghans killed in blast'. Print Edition | Subscribe