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KABUL — Nearly 20 wedding guests were killed Sunday when a bomb exploded near their bus in a district of eastern Afghanistan that gained notoriety for an anti-Taliban uprising.

The bus was traveling from a wedding around 5 p.m. in Ghazni province’s Andar district when the bomb exploded, killing 18 passengers — including 15 women and children — and wounding five, according to Ghazni provincial governor’s spokesman Nabi Jan.

Jan said the bomb was remote-controlled, and the trigger man was caught by villagers and beaten to death shortly after the explosion.

Remote-controlled bombs are not usually used against civilian vehicles in Afghanistan. Most incidents such as this involve an over-loaded bus hitting a pressure plate mine rigged for heavy military vehicles.

“It’s a big tragedy,” Jan said. “These kind of attacks are not allowed by any law or religion in the world.”

Andar district gained notoriety in 2012 for the so-called Andar Uprising, when villagers in the Taliban stronghold rose up and turned their weapons on insurgents. The NATO-led international military coalition seized on the uprising as proof that rural Afghans were fed up with anti-government insurgents, while others said the movement had been hijacked by both the central government and foreign forces.

While the Taliban have killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and account for the large majority of civilian casualties, it’s rare that they intentionally target civilians unaffiliated with the central government.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid denied the insurgent group was responsible for the bombing.

“It’s a tragic incident,” he said.

The NATO-led international military coalition condemned the bombing in a statement.

“We will continue to stand by the people of Afghanistan in this fight against extremists whose senseless acts endanger innocent women and children,” the statement said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai also released a statement.

“Those people who placed the bomb are enemies of the Afghan people,” he said.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

druzin.heath@stripes.com

Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

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