Photo: AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky
A mine tore through a minibus in Helmand province and killed 19, bringing the death toll in the country from a string of bomb attacks to nearly 80 in 24 hours.
The bus hit the mine in Sangin district which has been a Taliban stronghold for years, but no one claimed responsibility for the attack. Women and children were among the casualties.
A spokesman for the provincial governor said the vehicle had been travelling from Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital, when it was hit by a “terrorist’s” mine at around 10am.
The deaths came as Kabul’s Shia community buried the victims of Tuesday’s sectarian bomb massacre at a shrine in the Afghan capital.
After the bombing which killed 56 Shia worshippers celebrating the holy day of Ashura, President Hamid Karzai cancelled a trip to London where he had been due to sign a new strategic agreement with David Cameron.
A further four died in a nearly simultaneous bomb in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami, an obscure Pakistan-based militant group with a history of targeting Shia Muslims said it had carried out the bombing in a crowd outside the Abul Fazl shrine.
“We carried out the Kabul suicide bombing,” Abu Bakar Mansoor, a spokesman, told The Daily Telegraph.
An American was among the dead, the United States embassy in Kabul confirmed.
Shia Muslims make up around a fifth of the Afghan population and they are predominantly from the Hazara ethnic group.
Since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghanistan has largely escaped the sectarian strife which has blighted Pakistan and Iraq.