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14 Afghan schoolchildren killed in bombing at checkpoint

December 29, 2008|ASSOCIATED PRESS

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — A single-file line of schoolchildren walked past a military checkpoint Sunday as a bomb-loaded SUV veered toward them and exploded, ending the lives of 14 young Afghans in a heartbreaking flash captured by a U.S. military security camera.

The video shows the SUV slowly weaving through sand-bag barriers at the checkpoint just as the children, most wearing white caps, come into view. They walk along a pathway between the street and a wall, several of them pausing for a few seconds in a group before moving forward again.

The vehicle moves toward the security camera while the children walk in the opposite direction, nearly passing the SUV when the footage ends in a fiery blast.

Photos of the bombing's aftermath showed bloodied textbooks lying on the ground beside small pairs of shoes. Afghan officials said the children were attending a final day of class for the year to find out whether they would move up to the next grade.

Abdul Rahman, a doctor at a hospital near the blast, said the children were 8 to 10 years old.

The U.S. military said the attack in the eastern province of Khowst also killed an Afghan soldier and another adult -- probably a private security guard whose death Afghan officials reported. The U.S. said 58 people were wounded.

The blast went off near the entrance to a police and army post, said Yaqub Khan, the deputy police chief of Khowst. U.S. troops are also stationed inside the outpost, but no troops were wounded or killed in the attack.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and said those who carried out the bombing "cannot escape the revenge of Afghans and God's punishment."

Violence has increased across Afghanistan the last two years, and the U.S. plans to send between 20,000 and 30,000 additional troops to the country over the next six months to reinforce the 32,000 U.S. forces already there.

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A link to the video is available at latimes.com/afghan

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