Landmine blast kills 10 Afghan girls
A blast killed 10 Afghan girls as they were collecting firewood in eastern Afghanistan today, government officials said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion in volatile Nangarhar province. It could have been a bomb planted by Taliban insurgents or a landmine left over from decades of conflict.
The girls, between nine and 11 years old, were collecting wood in remote Chaparhar district, near the porous border with Pakistan, which is infested with some of the world's most dangerous militant groups.
"Unfortunately, 10 little girls were killed and two others wounded but we don't know whether it was planted by the Taliban," said Ahmadzia Abdulzai, provincial government spokesman.
Women and children are often the victims of the war between the Taliban and US-led Nato and Afghan forces, now in its eleventh year.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Kabul today which targeted a US contracting company and killed two Afghan civilians.
The Taliban and its allies have staged high-profile attacks in Kabul over the past few years against Western targets, including embassies. Attacks on Western companies are rare.
"A suicide car bomber attacked an important American company which is involved in security," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. "The company was under our surveillance for a long time and today we succeeded."
An Interior Ministry spokesman said two Afghan civilians were killed in the Kabul attack and that the 15 wounded included two foreigners.
The Virginia-based company that was targeted, Contrack International Inc., has built fuel storage systems in military bases in Afghanistan.
After more than a decade of war against Western forces with superior firepower and technology, the Taliban remain a potent force capable of striking in the heart of Kabul.
Many Afghans are growing increasingly worried that the country could face another civil war or a major Taliban push to seize power again when most Nato combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.