Ten Afghan schoolgirls killed after old Soviet-era landmine detonates


The girls, all under 12, spent their mornings collecting wood for their families through the bitter winter, and went to school in eastern Nangarhar province in the afternoon. They were gathered round a long-buried landmine yesterday, splitting logs with a small hatchet, when the blows detonated the old explosives, said provincial police chief Gen Abdullah Stanekzai. “The bomb was from Russian times. And the girls were collecting wood and trying to break the wood, but underneath it was the bomb,” said Gen Stanekzai. “We found another two bombs at the site and defused them.” Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, despite years of programmes to clear the land. Children are often victims of forgotten bombs as they play or work in remote rural areas. “It was a British-made anti-tank mine,” said Abigail Hartley, manager of the UN mine programme in Afghanistan. The incident occurred on the same day that a truck bomb in Kabul killed two civilians working for a US military contractor and wounded at least 15 others. Gunmen also murdered an employee of the education ministry in Kandahar. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing. – (Guardian service)