A group of civilians traveling in a tractor on the same road stopped to help the casualties when the second explosion occurred, Faisal said. The third blast, also in Arghistan, killed four members of a family, he said. Women and children were among the 18 victims, he said, and 10 civilians were wounded by the blasts.
Faisal said the roadside bombs were planted by Taliban-led insurgents who rely on the devices as part of their campaign against foreign and Afghan forces.
But Afghan civilians usually fall victim to such blasts. The Taliban could not be reached immediately for comment about the latest incidents. The United Nations estimates that more civilians are killed in Taliban attacks than in operations by the NATO-led and U.S. troops.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, on a visit to Japan, called the civilian deaths a savage act and a move against humanity and Islam.
In the mounting criticism over the rising number of civilian deaths reportedly committed by militants, the Taliban’s leadership recently issued a directive urging insurgents to avoid harming civilians.
However, Afghan civilians continue to suffer as they have done during the past four decades of conflicts. In the past few weeks alone, scores of civilians have been killed in various attacks, including suicide strikes.
In a separate incident, a group of Taliban fighters launched a pre-dawn attack Sunday on a police post in an area of Helmand, according to the office of its governor.
During the subsequent hours-long clashes, 22 assailants and four policemen were killed, the governor’s office said in a statement. Police called for reinforcements, but two additional officers were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb.
There was no independent verification of the office’s accounts. The Taliban has yet to comment about the incident.
Also on Sunday, a soldier from the NATO-led force was killed in an attack by insurgents in the south of the country, the coalition said. It gave no further details and did not identify the nationality of the soldier.