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Fiery Afghan bus crash kills 45, Taliban blamed


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — A bus collided on Friday with the wreckage of a truck that had been attacked by Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, killing 45 people aboard the bus in a fiery crash, officials said.

The battered oil tanker had been left in the middle of a narrow road near the border of Kandahar and Helmand provinces for several days after insurgents attacked it. Police considered the area too dangerous to enter, the officials said.

Before sunrise Friday, the bus smashed into the truck and burst into flames, said Abdul Razaq, the provincial police chief of Kandahar.

As police, soldiers and ambulances rushed to the desolate area, where many of the victims were burned beyond recognition, one survivor, Mohammad Habib, cried as he searched for his brother.

“I don’t care about my belongings and money that were burned inside the bus, but please help me find my brother, dead or alive,” he told AP Television News. “How will I face my mother without him?”

Forty-five people were killed and 10 injured, said Javeed Faisal, the spokesman for the governor of Kandahar province. He spoke to The Associated Press at Mirwais Hospital in Kandahar city, where many of the victims, including men, women and children, were being taken. 

Razaq said it would be difficult to identify many of the bodies.

The bus began its journey in the capital of Helmand province and was to stop in Kandahar city, then travel north to Kabul, the Afghan capital, Razaq said.

Meanwhile, Afghan and coalition forces continued to conduct joint operations around Afghanistan.

They arrested about 10 insurgents on Thursday and Friday in four provinces of Afghanistan, including several Taliban fighters in Kandahar, the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement.

AP writers Thomas Wagner and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed.

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