Roadside Bomb Kills 11 Pilgrims In Kandahar, Afghanistan

A bomb placed on the side of the road in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan has killed at least 11 pilgrims riding in a truck, according to provincial officials. According to Al Jazeera, at least 35 other people were also wounded after their truck set off a landmine in the Khakrez district of the province on Monday afternoon. Those injured in the blast were transferred to a nearby military base and some who were critically wounded were transferred to hospitals in the provincial capital. According to a senior health official, 22 children and 8 women were among those critically injured in the blast. The victims of the blast were on a pilgrimage to a shrine that contains the tomb of Sufi Shah Agha, a relative of the prophet Mohammed. At this point, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but many people are placing blame on the Taliban, which frequently uses roadside bombs and mines to target Afghan security forces. Kandahar is where the Taliban is originally from, and they still control some parts of the province to this day. 

When talking about the treatment that the victims will receive, Ahmad Sadeq Essa, an army spokesperson for the southern region stated, “The army only has a mobile clinic in Khakrez, and right now they are trying to transfer the wounded people to the regional hospital in Kandahar city for further treatment”. All sides here agree that civilian casualties in this conflict need to be stopped. According to the Washington Post, during intra-Afghan talks in Doha, the countries warring sides agreed that they should agree upon a roadmap for peace and pledge to eliminate all civilian casualties. Since that meeting however, there have been several attacks in different parts of the country already. 

In a conflict like the one currently happening in Afghanistan, civilian casualties should never be an option. Dozens of innocent people all over Afghanistan are being killed weekly due to these attacks, this is unacceptable. No one should have to die in order to achieve peace, especially while on a religious pilgrimage. The two sides are saying that they are headed towards a peace agreement, but since that was stated, even more people are dying due to these bombings. If these two groups want to achieve anything that resembles peace in the region, then the violence needs to end, full stop. Nothing will ever be accomplished if innocent people keep dying due to this conflict. 

This violence comes just one week after Taliban officials sat with Afghan government leaders as well as U.S. Negotiators to try and end the 18 year war in Afghanistan, according to Al Jazeera. But although peace talks have begun, the violence has yet to stop. According to the BBC, last Saturday, 4 Afghan security forces and a U.S. service member were killed in two Taliban attacks. In addition, last week at least six people were killed and 14 were wounded by a suicide bomber in his early teens who targeted a wedding celebration in the Nangarhar province. According to a quarterly report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), “explosives such as roadside bombs killed 53 civilians and left 269 others injured in the first three months of this year, a 21 percent increase from the same period last year”.

It is not exactly clear what will happen next in regards to this conflict. The war between the U.S. and the Taliban has been raging on for almost 2 decades now, and just when it’s looking like the conflict might come to an end, the civilian casualties are starting to rise again, putting everything in jeopardy once again. Hopefully the two sides here will come to a peaceful agreement and soon after, the violence in the region might stop for good.