Fifteen civilians, including eight children, were killed on Wednesday when their vehicle hit a land mine in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan, a government official said. "At around 5:00 pm this evening a mine planted by the Taliban terrorists hit a civilian car... killing 15 civilians and wounding two more," said Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman.
Six women and a man were also among those killed in the blast in Kunduz, on the country's northern border with Tajikistan, Rahimi said. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast. It was also unclear if it was a targeted attack. However there are regular clashes in the region between the Taliban insurgents and US-backed Afghan forces.
Insurgents attacked the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, in early September, but failed to capture it. The Taliban briefly seized the city in 2015. The blast comes during what has been a period of relative and uneasy calm, where the rate of large-scale attacks has dropped in recent weeks. The comparative lull followed a blood-stained presidential campaign season that ended with a general election on September 28.
But Wednesday's blast comes less than a week after a foreign national was killed and at least five other people wounded in a grenade attack on a United Nations vehicle in Kabul on November 24. The attack happened on a road frequently used by UN traffic shuttling workers between central Kabul and a large UN compound on the outskirts of the capital.
The UN said two other staff members -- one Afghan and one international -- were wounded. Aid agencies and non-governmental groups are sometimes targeted in Afghanistan's war. In 2011, seven foreign UN workers -- including four Nepalis, a Swede, a Norwegian and a Romanian -- were killed in an attack on a UN compound in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Afghans are still waiting for the results of that September 28 presidential election, with a recount bogged down by technical difficulties and bickering between the incumbent, President Ashraf Ghani, and his chief rival, Abdullah Abdullah. Afghans are also waiting to see what might happen in negotiations between Washington and the Taliban. US President Donald Trump in September ended those yearlong talks as Taliban violence continued, but on November 22 he suggested to US broadcaster Fox News that negotiations could be getting underway again.