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14 women, children killed in E. Afghan bombing

Fourteen people, including seven women and seven children, were killed Thursday when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) went off in a graveyard in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, a provincial government spokesman said.

"A group of people were visiting a cemetery to pay tribute to a deceased relative in Gulahee Village of Ghani Khil District at around 8:00 a.m. local time. But an IED was detonated, killing seven innocent women and seven children," spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai told Xinhua.

He said three women and a child were also wounded in the explosion, which took place at the first day of Eid-ul-Fitr, a Muslim festival marking the end of Ramadan, or fasting month.

During the festival, which comes with three days of public holiday, Muslims visit their relatives, friends and express sympathy with those who have lost their family members in the conflict or natural death besides reconciling with their enemies.

Some Afghans traditionally go to graveyards to pay homage for their late family members.

"It is not known yet, if the IED was detonated deliberately or one of the victims step on a pressure plate device fixed by the militants to initiate the blast," Abdulzai said, adding an investigation is kicked off into the incident.

The Taliban insurgent group uses IEDs to conduct roadside bombings against Afghan and some 98,000 NATO-led troops stationed in the country, but the lethal weapon also inflict casualties on civilians.

A total of 1,319 civilians were killed and 2,533 injured in conflict-related violence in the first half of the year in Afghanistan, according to a UN report issued on July 31 in Kabul.

The death and injuries to the Afghan women and children as a result of the conflict has also risen 38 percent in the first half of the year.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, 337 women and children had been killed and 770 others wounded, according to the report

The UN report attributed 74 percent of the civilian deaths to the attacks of Taliban insurgents and other armed groups opposing the Afghan government.

[Source: Xinhua, Jalabad, 08Aug13]

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