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Bomb hits Afghan school bus, kills at least nine

At least nine people, including eight children, were killed when a school bus carrying female students was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Wednesday, police and military officials said.
/ Source: Reuters

At least nine people, including eight children, were killed when a school bus carrying female students was hit by a roadside bomb in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday, police and military officials said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) gave this death toll after Abdul Jabar Purdeli, police chief of southwestern Nimroz province, had earlier said 13 people had been killed, including five women, and at least 10 wounded.

ISAF said the bus had been hit by a roadside bomb planted by insurgents in Nimroz's Khash Rod district.

Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001. Casualties on all sides of the conflict have hit record levels but ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt of the fighting.

The worsening security picture is likely to weigh heavily as U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration prepare for a review of the war at the end of the year amid sagging public support.

Purdeli said the group had been traveling in a small bus from a wedding party toward Shindand in western Herat province.

"It was a powerful bomb that killed most of the innocent civilians immediately," Purdeli told Reuters.

According to a mid-year U.N. report, violent civilian deaths jumped 31 percent in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period last year.

Foreign troop casualties have also spiked. Nearly 600 foreign troops have died this year, at least 50 this month alone.

There are now nearly 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, including around 100,000 Americans, but contributing nations are under increasing pressure at home as casualties rise in the increasingly unpopular war.