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Dozens killed on bus in Afghanistan

The NY Times reported that Taliban militants stopped a bus traveling on Afghanistan's main highway through a dangerous part of the country's south, took around 50 people on board and killed about 30 of them, officials announced Sunday.

Militants stopped the bus traveling in a two-bus convoy in a Taliban controlled area 40 miles west of Kandahar, provincial police chief Matiullah Khan said.

Afghan officials said no soldiers were aboard and all the victims were civilians. A Taliban spokesman holds accountability for the attack but claimed to have killed 27 Afghan army soldiers.

Khan said two buses had been traveling together, and the pasengers had tried to stop the first one but were unsuccessful. He said the insurgents fired at the first bus, killing a child among many other victims.

Several death tolls have been announced from the attack, hich occurred in an area where government forces cannot travel safely without heavy military protection. This high security is the reason for the attack being announced Sunday instead of Thursday.

The Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, said 31 people were killed and six of the dead were decapitated in a secluded area from where the other 25 bodies were found. Khan had originally said 40 people were killed, but lowered the number at a news conference to 24 people killed.

There was no way to independently determine the number of victims.

''The Taliban want to hide the news that they arrested and killed innocent Afghan civilians,'' Khan said, denying their claim the victims were soldiers.