A deadly bomb attack in Helmand province is the latest incident in a wave of violence in Afghanistan that looks like stoking tensions with Pakistan. Nineteen civilians died when their van was caught in a roadside bomb explosion.
It is not clear if it is linked to Tuesday’s sectarian bombings that President Hamid Karzai has blamed on Pakistani militants. Almost 60 people were killed in blasts in Kabul, Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. Most were Shi’ites taking part in a religious festival.
Karzai said: “Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is active in Pakistan, has taken the responsibility for this anti-human and anti-Islam action. We are investigating this issue and we are going to talk to the Pakistani government about it.”
The Taliban has also condemned the bombings, describing the perpetrators as “enemies.”
Afghanistan has not previously seen the high level of sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi’ites that has occured in other countries. If there is an upsurge in this kind of bloodshed it will severely stretch NATO and local forces.