Monday, September 28, 2009

Afghan government says 12 civilians killed by Taliban attack, roadside bomb

KABUL - Insurgents killed 12 Afghan civilians in the east and north — half in an ambush on a group of truck drivers and half when a van hit a roadside bomb, the government said Monday.

Afghanistan's civilian death toll has risen alongside that of U.S. and international forces this summer. A U.N. report issued Saturday said August was the deadliest month of the year for civilians as the Taliban stepped up a campaign of violence to discourage voting in the Aug. 20 election.

A total of 1,500 civilians died in Afghanistan from January through August, up from 1,145 for the same period of 2008, the U.N. report said.

On Sunday, Taliban militants ambushed a group of truck drivers in eastern Kunar province, killing six of the drivers and burning their vehicles, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. A seventh truck driver was kidnapped.

Also Sunday, a private van hit a roadside bomb in northern Faryab province, the ministry said in a separate statement. Six of those inside were killed and another seven injured, the statement said.

The planted bombs have become a major cause of deaths and injuries for both international troops and Afghan civilians. Some are remotely detonated, but many are simply placed on roads and triggered by a vehicle riding over the explosive.

The U.N. report said about three-quarters of the civilian deaths recorded this year were the work of militants. Coalition forces were responsible for the remaining deaths, most the result of airstrikes.