Afghan ambulance hits bomb, killing woman in labor, 4 relatives

KABUL, Afghanistan -- An ambulance carrying a pregnant woman in labor to the hospital hit a roadside bomb in northern Afghanistan on Monday, killing her and four family members, including two children, Afghan officials said. Two other people were hurt.

The explosion took place in the province of Sar-e-Pul, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. The province last week was the scene of a jailbreak in which more than a dozen inmates, including several members of the Taliban, blasted their way out of the prison. The police chief and prison director were fired in the wake of the breakout.

Monday's explosion took place in the provincial capital, Sar-e-Pul City, the Interior Ministry said. It blamed insurgents, who have been seeking to establish themselves across northern Afghanistan.

"Targeting civilians is a clear sign of the weakness of insurgents," the ministry said in a statement. "Such attacks can never weaken the spirit of cooperation between our people and security forces."

Civilian fatalities dropped in the first four months of the year, but have been rising again as warmer temperatures have ushered in more fighting between coalition forces and the Taliban and allied groups. Improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, are blamed for causing the largest share of deaths among civilians and soldiers alike.

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-- Laura King and Aimal Yaqubi

 
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