KABUL: At least seven people were killed in a bomb blast on a minibus in the western Afghan city of Herat n Saturday, officials said.
“Four women were among the seven killed,” the head of Herat’s provincial hospital, Arif Jalali, told a news agency. Herat’s Taliban commander Mawlawi Ansari said that nine people had been wounded.
Herat provincial police and the department of culture also confirmed the bomb blast. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. The cause of the blast was not clear. “Initial reports indicate it was a sticky bomb attached to the fuel tank of the passenger vehicle,” said Sabit Harwi, a spokesman for the office.
A health official in Herat, who asked not to be named, told the news agency said an explosion hit a small van used for public transport just after 1800 local time and that three of the injured were in serious condition.
Since the Taliban took over in August, a series of blasts and attacks, including some claimed by the regional chapter of ISIS, Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K)., have taken place across Afghanistan. The attacks have heightened the new administration’s security challenges as the country spirals into an economic crisis.
ISKP has been accused of regularly targeting the country’s Shia Hazara community with deadly attacks, and the area where Saturday’s blast occurred near a bus station is also inhabited by the community. Herat is the country’s third-biggest city, close to the border with Iran, but had remained relatively peaceful in recent months.
In addition to security-related concerns, the Afghan economy remains dire as support for the country has dried up amid the Taliban takeover. The international community remains wary of the group with the United States imposing sanctions on some of its leaders.
The United Nations estimates nearly 23 million Afghans – about 55 percent of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly nine million at risk of famine as winter takes hold.