REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- The fall day had turned chilly, and the rural family, traveling by foot with small children in tow, gladly accepted an offer from Afghan police to give them a lift to town.
Two police officers and nine members of the family, at least six of them children, died when the three-vehicle convoy was hit by a roadside bomb in northwest Afghanistan's Badghis province, the country's Interior Ministry said Tuesday. Several other family members were injured.
The blast occurred Monday, as Afghans were marking the second day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, which is commemorated with prayers and family visits. Reporting of the incident was delayed by the remote location, officials said.
Badghis province includes some areas where Afghan police and soldiers are to begin assuming the lead in security operations, a step meant to pave the way for a withdrawal of Western combat forces by 2014. But insurgents have stepped up activity in parts of the country’s north and northwest.
“We strongly condemn this kind of brutal terrorist attack that kills innocent civilians, especially during holy days,” said the provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Jabar Saleh.
Afghan police often travel in open pickup trucks, which increases the chance of deaths and injuries when they encounter recently placed improvised explosive devices or landmines left over from previous conflicts.
-- Laura King and Hashmat Baktash