South Asia

Afghanistan bus blast 'kills 25'

Map of Afghanistan

At least 25 people have been killed and 20 wounded in Afghanistan when the bus they were travelling on hit a roadside bomb, officials say.

The bus was travelling on a highway in Nimroz province, the provincial governor told news agencies.

The blast went off shortly after Nato forces patrolled the area, the governor said.

Nato and US-led forces are in their ninth year fighting the Taliban, with most of the combat in the south.

Rocket attack

A senior Afghan interior ministry official told the BBC that the bus was on the way from Nimroz to the capital, Kabul, when it hit an improvised explosive device.

"The bomb was planted by the enemies because this morning a coalition convoy was supposed to cross the area," Provincial Governor Ghulam Dastgir Azad said, referring to Nato forces.

"Coalition forces helped us to evacuate the injured."

Officials say that Afghan security forces have also been sent to the site, along with ambulances to bring back the dead and injured to Kabul.

A provincial official in Nimroz said that the road where the incident happened was "mostly used by civilians and the enemies of peace should have known that a bus does not carry police or army but villagers".

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told AFP that it was not responsible for the bombing. T

"This is the work of Nato. They've done this in a bid to divert attentions from the Sangin incident," Mr Mujahed said, referring a rocket attack that killed 52 civilians last Friday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the bus attack.

"The criminals who did this are the enemies of Muslims," he said in a statement.

On Monday, the government said that 52 civilians, including women and children, had died in a Nato rocket strike on a village in southern Afghanistan last week - a report disputed by the the international coalition.

President Karzai's office said an investigation by Afghan intelligence officers has concluded that a Nato rocket hit Rigi village in Helmand province, one of the most violent areas of the country.

Afghan civilians have borne the brunt of the casualties in the war, suffering death and injuries in the crossfire between Nato and the Taliban as well as being caught up in suicide attacks and roadside bombs.