Afghan suicide bomb attack kills 6 children

Afghan suicide bomb attack kills 6 children
# 02 August 2010 23:35 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The target of the blast was apparently a government official, who was not hurt. It is the latest in a series of assaults on authorities and tribal elders, APA reports quoting “Los Angeles Times”.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber who was apparently trying to assassinate a government official instead killed six children who were on their way to school Monday in volatile Kandahar province.

The blast, in the Dand district west of Kandahar city, was in keeping with a pattern of insurgent attacks against government officials and tribal elders, particularly in the south. Many such assaults kill and wound bystanders instead.

The explosion took place at about 9 a.m., as people were on their way to work — including the bomber’s apparent target, district government chief Hamadullah Nazak. But schoolchildren were also out on the street when the blast tore through a busy market area in the village of Gohsi Khan.
Five of the children were killed outright; a sixth died later in the day, according to Zalmay Ayubi, a provincial spokesman. Three others were injured.

Ayubi said all were under the age of 10.

Nazak was not hurt, though a bodyguard was wounded. There were conflicting reports as to whether a second explosion also took place, from a bomb planted nearby.

Such attacks have become increasingly common around Kandahar, the hub of the south and the birthplace of the militant Taliban movement. NATO forces are carrying out a two-pronged operation meant to push insurgents from the city’s outlying districts and bring better governance and more services to the populace.

The insurgents have responded with a concerted drive to assassinate local and provincial Afghan officials, and Afghans working with foreign contractors or aid agencies.

NATO recently reported it had intercepted orders from Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar calling on fighters to kill anyone seen as colluding with the West or the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad on Monday, militants struck a convoy carrying presidential advisor Wahidullah Sabaoon, setting off a remote-controlled bomb concealed in an auto-rickshaw. Sabaoon was injured, but not seriously, as were six members of his entourage, according to Ahmad Zia Abdul, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial government.

Amid the backdrop of rising violence, the new commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, has issued new counterinsurgency guidelines for Western troops.

Like his predecessor, Army Gen. Stanley H. McChrystal, Petraeus emphasized that harming civilians runs counter to the aims of the NATO force.

"If we kill civilians or damage their property in the course of our operations, we will create more enemies than our operations eliminate," Petraeus wrote. "That’s exactly what the Taliban want. Don’t fall into their trap."

There has been speculation that Petraeus would loosen tight restrictions on troops’ use of airstrikes and artillery when there is a possibility that civilians are present. There was no mention of any such revision in the rules released publicly Monday by the NATO force, but Petraeus said the new guidelines were the first in a series, which left open the possibility he might do so later.

Some soldiers have complained that earlier guidelines issued by McChrystal did not allow them sufficient freedom to fire on insurgents. However, the proportion of civilian casualties caused by Western troops declined significantly during his yearlong tenure, even though overall civilian deaths increased.
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