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Afghan battle leaves 40 militants dead in southern Helmand province
A roadside bomb ostensibly organized by Taliban militants claimed the lives of five civilians in Taliban former stronghold southern Helmand province Thursday evening, while security forces crackdown left 40 armed Taliban fighters dead on Friday, officials confirmed.
Notorious for growing poppy and militancy the restive Helmand province with Lashkar Gah as its capital, 555 km south of the national capital Kabul city has been the scene of violent incidents over the past few years.
In the latest wave of violent incidents, five civilians were killed while 13 others wounded in a roadside bomb blast Thursday as the bus were taking its travelers to a wedding party.
"A minibus was traveling along a road in Sistani locality of Marja district of Helmand Thursday evening. The vehicle touched off an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and the explosion killed five people on the spot and injured 13 others," spokesman for provincial government Omar Zwak told Xinhua.
Those killed in the bloody bombing includes three teenage girls and two women, the official said, adding that the ill-fated passengers were traveling to a village where a wedding party was underway.
Although no group has claimed of responsibility, the official put the attack on the Taliban militants who are largely relying on suicide bombings and the home-made IEDs and roadside bombings against security forces but the lethal weapons often inflict casualties on civilians.
In the first four months of 2015, more than 970 civilians had been killed and more than 1,960 others wounded in conflicts and Taliban-led insurgency which showed a 16 percent increase over the same period last year, according to a report released by the UN mission in the country.
Meantime, a clash between forces and Taliban militants has left 40 insurgents dead in the troubled Helmand province on Friday, a senior army officer in the province Brigadier Abdul Wadood said.
"The bloody clash erupted in Sarwan Qala district, Helmand province when a group of Taliban rebels attacked three security checkpoints in Sadozai area early Friday and security forces retaliated triggering gun battle during which 40 rebels have been killed and 16 others injured forcing the militants to flee away," Abdul Wadood told reporters here.
Only two army personnel have been injured during the clash, the official said, adding the cleanup operations of security forces are continuing in the area to ensure law and order there.
Taliban militants who are fighting the government and have challenged the security forces in parts of Helmand province over the past some six months haven't made comment.
Militancy and conflicts typically get momentum in spring and summer in Afghanistan commonly known as fighting season among Afghans.
[Source: Xinhua, Kabul, 12Jun15]
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