Mine blast kills 13 on Afghan bus
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A bus in central Afghanistan has struck a land mine, killing 13 passengers and injuring six others, according to United Nations sources.
The accident, which happened Saturday morning but was not reported until Sunday, occurred after the driver ignored the pleas of passengers to take a detour to avoid a stretch of main road widely recognized as dangerous.
U.N. spokesman David Singh said the explosion happened near Bamiyan, some 120 miles west of the capital Kabul.
The victims had been returning from a picnic day-trip near the eastern edge of Band-i-Amir lake, a picturesque resort area.
He said the United Nations had been asked to request help from the Turkish-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul to airlift the wounded by helicopter.
The 18-nation ISAF was on standby and waiting for confirmation that the airlift is needed, Reuters news agency reported.
According to Sing, the injured passengers and bodies of the dead were transported to Bamiyan hospital by a de-mining agency.
The mine that destroyed the bus was likely planted during years of fighting between the Taliban and the Shi'ite faction of Hezb-i-Wahdat, which controlled most of the central highlands.
U.N. estimates say more than 10 million mines have been laid in Afghanistan, where Cold War rivals fought each other through their proxies in the 1980s.
Mines maim or kill dozens of Afghans each month and in some areas they are preventing refugees from returning home and farmers from cultivating the land.
De-mining agencies have spent millions of dollars trying to clear the threat in Afghanistan, but mines still go undetected.
In one of the worst accidents involving civilians, nearly 40 people in a wedding party died in 1998 when their bus hit an anti-tank mine hidden along a main road in the southern city of Kandahar which had been declared safe from mines.
In March, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed when he stepped on a land mine during a training
mission near the U.S. base in Kandahar, Afghanistan's second largest city.
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