Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Landmine kills 11 pilgrims in southern Afghanistan

Eight women and 22 children were among those critically wounded

An Afghan security official looks for landmines in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on 9 July 2019. EPA
An Afghan security official looks for landmines in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on 9 July 2019. EPA

At least 11 pilgrims, including seven children, were killed on Monday when their vehicle set off a landmine in southern Afghanistan.

The blast happened in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province at about midday, Hayatullah Hayat, the Governor of Kandahar, said.

A senior health official said 22 children and eight women were among the critically wounded.

The victims were returning from a pilgrimage to a shrine that houses the tomb of Sufi Shah Agha, a companion and relative of the Prophet Mohammed.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

Taliban fighters say they use roadside bombs and landmines to attack security forces, but civilians are frequently hurt or killed.

In Balkh province in the north, two children died in a landmine explosion on Sunday, officials said.

Years of conflict have left Afghanistan strewn with landmines, which are often picked up by curious children.

Last year, at least 1,415 Afghan civilians were killed or injured by landmines and unexploded munitions.

Children made up a third of overall casualties, and 80 per cent of those from unexploded munitions, said the UN Mine Action Service.

Updated: July 16, 2019 10:07 AM

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