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Civilians In Afghanistan Remain Caught In The Cross Hairs
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Two separate incidents in Afghanistan have taken several civilian lives in recent days. The first involved a roadside bomb in an area of western Afghanistan, in the Obe district of the Herat Province. A minibus drove over the road side device, detonated it as it made its way to the area’s shopping area. Twenty one people were killed in that explosion including a dozen children and three women. The remainder of the victims were men. Several eyewitnesses said that the explosion was very powerful and that most of the recovered bodies were barely recognizable. Eleven others were injured in that blast.

In the second incident which took place near Gardez, the capital of the Paktia province, a suicide car bomber drove an explosive packed truck through two separate gates on a Provincial Reconstruction Team Base. That PRT, operated by the Americans in that area, is one of twenty such bases that are aimed at helping with a number of tasks including military training and helping with a local development projects.

The explosives were hidden under a load of wood making the blast even more potentially dangerous. The driver, later described as a seventy year old man, raced through the first of the security gates and then detonated when he drew fire from the troops at the second gate. The explosion killed two Afghan security guards and caused extensive damage.

While there has been no claim for responsibility in the Herat Province roadside bombing, the second bombing has been claimed by the Taliban. In a written statement emailed to various media outlets, the Taliban leaders claimed that the bombing was aimed directly at the US soldiers and that more than sixty were injured or killed during the attack.They also claimed that the explosion was caused by some seven tons of explosives hidden beneath the load of wood. As is usual, the Taliban exaggerates casualty and damage numbers. The US State Department confirmed that there were no US casualties in either of the two most recent bombings.

Experts are pointing out that this has been an especially violent year in Afghanistan as the US continues with plans to start bringing home the troops. The number of civilians that have been killed in bombings and other violence has risen 15% in the first six months of 2011.

Earlier in the month, a US military copter was shot down, killing 31 Special Operation troops returning from a rescue mission. Seven Afghan commandos were killed in that downed helicopter as well. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that deadly attack, the single deadliest incident for the American forces.

In breaking news, an Afghan official has confirmed that a suicide bomber has detonated an explosion on the western side of the capital city of Kabul. That explosion, in the residential area of the city, killed two policemen and one municipal worker and damaged buildings and broke class nearly a mile from the scene. Initial reports are also claiming that there might have been gunfire at the scene as well.

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