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Landmines Kill 12 Afghans in 2 Incidents

Kabul and Sar-e-Pul, Kandahar and Logar provinces

Ten civilians were killed and another four wounded when their van hit a roadside landmine Wednesday morning in Afghanistan’s Arghistan District in Kandahar province, according to local police.

Jamal Barakzai, a spokesman for Kandahar police, told VOA the victims were residents of a local village.

The district, bordering Pakistan, is considered one of the more restive areas of Kandahar, where several similar mine explosions in the past week killed at least 10 civilians in addition to Wednesday’s deaths.

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has urged the Taliban to stop using the devices, saying they primarily hurt civilians.

In a tweet after Wednesday’s blast, UNAMA wrote:

“Pressure-Plate IEDs in #Afghanistan inflict a devastating toll on Afghan civilians. UNAMA initial findings show Taliban-placed PPIEDs killed 10 civilians & injured 10 more in first 48 hours of June alone in Kunduz & Sar-e-Pul. Stop using these illegal improvised landmines.”

A separate landmine blast in Paktia province Tuesday night killed the police chief of Sayed Karam District and his guard, according to local police.

A source at Paktia provincial police headquarters who wished to remain anonymous told VOA that chief Homayoun Hemat was on his way to a police outpost that was under attack by the Taliban when his vehicle hit the mine.

Taj Mohammad Mangal, a member of the Paktia Provincial Council, said police also suffered casualties.

The Taliban has not commented on the incident.

The militant group announced a three-day cease-fire toward late May to mark the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Fitr that commemorates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The cease-fire prompted President Ashraf Ghani to reciprocate and announce the release of 2,000 Taliban militants in custody of Afghan forces.

The action by both sides seemed to be an effort to reduce tensions and pave the way for the start of intra-Afghan dialogue, when the Taliban and a representative group of Afghans are expected to negotiate the future of their country.

The talks are part of a deal signed between the United States and Taliban in February to help bring an end to conflict in Afghanistan. Under the deal, the U.S. announced a timeline to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country.