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Afghanistan bombings kill 19, including 11 children

Nine schoolchildren and two coalition soldiers are among the victims of a suicide bomber. Elsewhere in Afghanistan, a roadside explosive kills a family.

June 03, 2013|By Hashmat Baktash and Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
  • Afghan men carry the bodies of seven civilians killed by a roadside bomb in Laghman province. The family of seven had driven to the mountains to gather firewood, the provincial government said.
Afghan men carry the bodies of seven civilians killed by a roadside bomb… (Rahmat Gul / Associated…)

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two bomb blasts killed at least 19 people in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, including 11 children and two soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition, as Taliban militants continued a wave of violence as part of their spring offensive.

Nine schoolchildren and an Afghan police officer were killed when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives in a busy market in Paktia province along the Pakistani border, Paktia police chief Zalmai Oryakhail said. Two U.S.-led coalition soldiers were also killed in the attack, according to NATO forces. Their nationalities were not disclosed as of Monday afternoon.

The target appeared to be a U.S. military convoy that had been passing a school in the area at the time of the blast, Oryakhail said.

Earlier Monday in Laghman province, a car ran over a roadside bomb, which killed a family of seven inside, including four women and two children, said Sarhadi Zowak, a provincial spokesman. The family had driven to the mountains to gather firewood and was on its way home when the blast occurred, Zowak said.

United Nations officials condemned both attacks.

"These attacks resulted in a high number of civilian casualties, with minimal impact on their purported military targets — any such violence is unacceptable, but especially when it involves civilians and even more so when it involves children," said the U.N. secretary-general's special representative in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis. "Any attacks which deliberately take place near a school can only be condemned for the heinous attacks that they are."

Insurgent violence in the last two weeks has killed 125 Afghan civilians and injured 287, a 24% increase in total civilian casualties from the same period in 2012. Antigovernment forces were to blame for 84% of civilian casualties during the recent two weeks.

Special correspondent Baktash reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Rodriguez from Islamabad, Pakistan.

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