Officials: Engine explosion, fire kill 10 Afghan civilians

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A minivan carrying civilians caught fire Wednesday after its engine exploded in southern Afghanistan killing 10 family members, including three children, an official said.

Southern Urozgan provincial police spokesman Ahmad Shah Sahel said the family was returning from a wedding when their minivan became partially submerged in the Helmand River. Sahel said the family wasn’t able to exit the vehicle as it was half in the water.

High pressure and water finding its way into the engine caused an explosion and fire inside the car, killing all the family members, Sahel said.

The bride and groom were riding in a separate car and were not among the casualties. A police spokesman said the incident happened in an area where militants and Afghan forces are active and police were not able to provide assistance immediately.

Meanwhile, a media advocacy organization called Nai said in a statement that unknown gunmen shot and killed Dr. Khalil Narmgo, former head of a Baghlan journalists association in northern Afghanistan.

A Baghlan police official who wanted to remain anonymous as he was not authorized to speak to the media said Narmgo was returning to the capital of Baghlan province late Tuesday when unknown gunmen stopped his car, took him out, and opened fire at him.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghanistan has seen a nationwide spike in bombings, targeted killings, and violence as peace negotiations in Qatar between the Taliban and the Afghan government resumed this week after over a month’s delay.

The Islamic State group’s local affiliate has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, but many go unclaimed, with the government putting the blame on the Taliban. The insurgents have denied responsibility for most of the attacks.

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