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Originally published Thursday, December 30, 2010 at 5:57 PM

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At least 14 civilians killed in Afghan blast

A roadside bomb blew up next to a minibus at an intersection on a major highway in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 14 civilians, officials said.

The Associated Press

Related developments

Christians targeted: One week after an Islamic extremist group vowed to kill Christians in Iraq, a cluster of 10 bombings rattled Baghdad late Thursday and sent additional tremors of fear through the country's shaken Christian minority. Two people were killed and 20 wounded, all of them Christians, according to the Interior Ministry. The bombs were placed near the homes of at least 14 Christian families around the city, and four bombs were defused before they could explode.

Bird threat: Along with improvised explosive devices and suicide bombers, U.S. operations in Afghanistan face a threat from a little known source: birds. The main U.S. base in Afghanistan — Bagram Air Field — apparently sits dead center in the path of assorted migratory birds and is home territory for other flocking species. To avoid costly "bird strikes," the Air Force has cleared brush, recruited Afghan falconers to hunt the offending birds and, in April, shipped in a $300,000 bird-detection radar system. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will deploy six biologists for four-month tours next year to help.

Seattle Times news services

KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bomb blew up next to a minibus at an intersection on a major highway in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing at least 14 civilians, officials said.

The blast struck the minibus in the Lashkar Gah-Sangin district in Helmand province on the main road running from the city of Kandahar to Herat, said Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand governor's office. He said four were wounded in the blast and the dead included women and children.

The bus was taking people to a bazaar, said Ghulam Haidar, who arrived at the scene after learning that two of his brothers had been killed.

Haidar said he took his cousin and a child who was on the bus to a hospital. He learned later the child died.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing as a "bloodthirsty" attack, saying the explosive was "planted by the enemy of the Afghan people." NATO described the incident as a "despicable attack" aimed at civilians.

Helmand is one of the Taliban's strongholds in southern Afghanistan. It has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting in the war and an area where NATO has poured in troops in a bid to quell the insurgency.

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