Afghan blast kills five from same family: official

Five members of the same family were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb ripped through their minivan in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, an official said.

The incident happened in Gereshk, a volatile district of Helmand province, as the family travelled to Helmand's main town Lashkar Gah, provincial spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.

"At around 10:00 am this morning, a minivan struck a roadside bomb killing three women and two men who were members of one family," Ahmadi said.

Although the attack bore the hallmarks of the Taliban, who frequently plant roadside bombs in Afghanistan's restive regions, the insurgents were unreachable to comment on the attack.

Civilians are the biggest casualties in the decade-long war in Afghanistan, where around 140,000 foreign forces are stationed.

The year 2010 was the bloodiest yet for civilians, with the United Nations recording 2,777 fatalities.

A total of 1,462 civilians were also killed in the first half of 2011, according to UN figures -- an increase of 15 percent over last year, with insurgent attacks blamed for 80 percent of fatalities overall.

Cheap and easy to make, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are used widely by the Taliban and kill large numbers of civilians and troops.

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