At least 50 people have been killed and several others injured in a collision between a bus and a fuel tanker in Eastern Afghanistan on Friday.

The accident occurred in the Eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, in the Ab Band district at around 2am on Friday morning. The passenger bus was driving along the highway between the Kabul and Kandahar, the capital of Southern Afghanistan and the country’s second largest city. This stretch of highway is notorious for being one of the most dangerous roads in Afghanistan, with thousands of people dying in road traffic accidents each year.

Ghazni is situated in the main supply chain route for Nato goods entering Afghanistan in the north and then being dispersed to the South.

According to officials, at least 50 people were killed in the accident and six others injured, with women and children among the victims. Both vehicles burst into flames after the collision, and according to initial police reports, many of the bodies were so badly burnt that they were unable to be identified.

The head of one of the largest hospitals in Ghazni city, Baz Mohammad Himmat, said that only five injured individuals were brought to his hospital by ambulance. Unofficial reports indicate that one of the injured may have died in transit to the hospital, but this information is yet to be confirmed.

Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Ghazni province, has confirmed that the passenger bus collided with a fuel tanker in the Spin Band area of Ab Band. It is not yet clear which company was operating the fuel tanker, or what factors contributed to the accident. According to one police official, however, both vehicles were travelling at high speed when the incident occurred.

Afghanistan’s roads are known to be perilous, with the majority of vehicles on the road being old and poorly maintained. According to the interior ministry spokesperson, Sediq Sediqqi, public transport vehicles are no exception, leading to a high incidence of heavy casualty road traffic accidents. Roadside mines are common along major Afghan roads, but the police have ruled out a mine explosion as the cause of this collision.

There is no indication that the military or Afghan insurgents played a role in the accident, but Ghazni is a popular target for attacks by terrorist group the Taliban. The Taliban are currently leading a 10 year long insurgency struggle against the US appointed government and the 177,000 Nato troops who are due to withdraw from the country by the end of 2014.

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