Two roadside bombs killed 19 people and wounded four today in Afghanistan as civilians are increasingly being caught in crossfire of the fighting between the Taliban and the US-led coalition. A minibus ran over a bomb in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province, with the blast killing all 18 passengers, says the province's deputy police chief. "The mine was very powerful and destroyed the vehicle," he says. "They were all civilians. Some were children."
Another civilian was killed and four were wounded when the farm tractor they were riding in struck a mine in Garmser district, he adds. Police who responded to the minibus explosion came under fire from insurgents, but there were no casualties among the policemen. However, three Afghan policemen reportedly died in a fight with insurgents last night in Helmand's Gereshk district. In its midyear report, the UN says the number of Afghan civilians killed in war-related violence rose by 15% in the first half of 2011.