KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A bus collided on Friday with the wreckage of a truck that was attacked by Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 30 people aboard the bus in a fiery crash, officials said.
The battered truck was left in the middle of a narrow road on the border of Helmand and Kandahar provinces for several days after insurgents opened fire on it. Police considered the area too dangerous to enter, the officials said.
Before sunrise Friday, the bus smashed into the truck and both vehicles burst into flames, badly burning many of the bus passengers, said Abdul Razaq, the provincial police chief of Kandahar.
Razaq said eight passengers were injured. Omar Zawak, the governor's spokesman in Helmand province, put the injury total at 11. Both said the casualties included men, women and children.
The bus began its journey in the capital of Helmand province and was scheduled to stop in Kandahar city, then travel north to Kabul, the Afghan capital, Razaq said.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Officials say a helicopter owned by an Afghan company has made an emergency landing in a Taliban-controlled area of eastern Afghanistan, and the insurgents took all nine people who were aboard hostage.
A district administrator in the area says the helicopter landed on Sunday afternoon in strong winds and rain in a village of Logar province, southeast of Kabul and about 30 kilometers (or 20 miles) from the Pakistan border.
Hamidullah Hamid said on Monday that the Taliban captured all nine aboard the aircraft and took them from the area. He says the crew and passengers are all civilian.
Logar deputy police chief, Rais Khan Abdul Rahimzai, says the helicopter is owned by the Khaorasan company. He didn't know what cargo it was carrying or where it was heading.
The shooting took place while the troops were visiting the facility to help train the Afghans, a key part of the U.S. handover strategy before combat troops leave in 2014. According to coalition officials, the shooting also left several wounded.
A joint U.S.-Afghan team is investigating the shooting.
This latest insider attack in Wardak, a restive province in the country's east, comes one day after a deadline set by Afghan President Hamid Karzai for all U.S. Special Forces to leave the province. Karzai set the deadline two weeks ago, after accusing Afghans who work for U.S. Special Forces of harassing, torturing and murdering innocent civilians.
The attack also comes just a day after new U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's trip to Afghanistan, one marred by controversy.
Osama bin Laden's Son-in-Law Pleads Not Guilty in NYC Court Watch Video On Saturday, a suicide bomber on a bicycle struck just outside the Afghan Ministry of Defense, one of the most heavily fortified buildings in the country. At least nine Afghan civilians were killed. Though Hagel was in a meeting at a coalition military base at the time and never in any danger, nearby bases were put into lockdown, and reporters travelling with Hagel's press pool were ushered into a safe room in the basement of the base they were on.
Then on Sunday, Karzai implied the Taliban were serving U.S. interests by creating instability in Afghanistan. The inflammatory comments were made during a nationally televised speech.
Referring to recent insurgent attacks, including the one outside the Ministry of Defense, Karzai said the attacks were "not aimed at showing their strength to the USA, but to serve the USA.
"In fact, yesterday's bombings in the name of the Taliban were aimed at serving the foreigners and supporting the presence of the foreigners in Afghanistan and keeping them in Afghanistan, by intimidating us," Karzai said.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford, quickly rejected the comments, calling them "categorically false."
"We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years, to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage," Dunford said.
Later that evening, Hagel cancelled a scheduled joint press conference with Karzai. A spokesperson cited security concerns, though a Karzai spokesperson said it was due to "scheduling pressures." The two still held a private dinner meeting with Dunford in attendance, but the cancellation of the joint press conference was widely seen as a snub to Karzai in response to his inflammatory remarks.