7 Afghan children killed by bomb while playing, officials say

7 Afghan children killed by bomb while playing, officials say
Afghan child laborers sit around a fire on a roadside in Kabul. (Farshad Usyan / AFP/Getty Images)

KABUL, Afghanistan – Seven children were killed and three were wounded Monday by a roadside bomb in southeastern Afghanistan, provincial officials said.

The children, 6 to 10 years old and all from the same extended family, were killed while playing on a roadside in Paktia province. Mukhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told The Times by telephone that the explosives had been planted by Taliban insurgents – what he called "enemies of peace and stability."

Insurgents routinely plant explosives along well-traveled roads, purportedly targeting U.S., international or Afghan security forces. The bombs are indiscriminate and often kill or maim civilians.

The latest United Nations civilian casualty report, issued in July, said 74% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in the first half of 2013 were caused by insurgents. The majority of those deaths were caused by roadside bombs, it said.

President Hamid Karzai, who has criticized U.S. forces for night raids or air attacks that he says have killed civilians, condemned the attack Monday. He called it "a cowardly and inhuman act ... an unforgivable crime not justified by any religion."

In a separate incident Monday, two Afghan sisters aged 10 and 12 were killed when a car in which they were riding struck a roadside bomb near Qalat, the provincial capital of Zabol province. Ghulam Gelani Farahee, Zabol's deputy police chief, said in a telephone interview that the girls' father and brother were injured.

Also Monday, authorities in southern Afghanistan provided new details on Sunday's killing of six Afghan government workers by insurgents. The victims were identified as police recruits on their way to training in Kandahar province, which is largely controlled by the Taliban.

The recruits were kidnapped from their vehicle and beheaded, Farahee said. The victims were passing through Zabol en route to Kandahar.

Their bodies were handed over to elders in Zabol, Farahee said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killings, according to officials in Kandahar and Zabol.


Twitter: @davidzucchino

Baktash is a special correspondent.