A roadside bomb in western Afghanistan left three civilians dead and 48 wounded, including 10 children.
The blast targeted a passing police vehicle in the city of Farah, killing the civilians, wounding 10 children and dozens of construction workers, said Mohammad Qasem Bayan, the chief of public health department for Farah province.
The attack happened in the city centre, near a school, Mr Bayan said.
A police vehicle was slightly damaged and two officers were also wounded, said Zemeri Bashary, a spokesman for the ministry of interior.
“It is the work of enemies of Afghanistan,” Mr Bashary said, suggesting resurgent Taliban militants were behind the attack.
Western Afghanistan has been spared much of the violence rocking the country’s south and east, but that area lies on a major route for heroin smuggling into Iran.
Last week, suspected Taliban militants briefly took over one of the districts of Farah province after police fled the posts. That followed a roadside attack last Sunday on the province’s police chief on his return from destroying poppy fields. The police chief was unharmed, but four other officers in the vehicle were killed and two wounded.
Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium poppy. In 2006, production in the country rose 49 per cent to 6,700 tons – enough to make about 670 tons of heroin.
The government has stepped up its attempts to destroy poppy fields after rejecting the US idea of ground-based spraying of the illicit crop.
In southern Helmand province yesterday, residents discovered the body of a doctor, who was kidnapped and killed by suspected Taliban militants earlier in the week, said Gen. Mohammad Eisah, the province’s deputy police chief.
The doctor was shot in the head and chest and his body was dumped on the side of the road near Helmand’s capital Lashkar Gah, Gen. Eisah said.