Authorities in Afghanistan say that a powerful bomb explosion in a
central province has killed 25 people, including at least 15 school
children. President Hamid Karzai has condemned the blast as a "savage
and anti-Islamic attack." The violence comes as thousands of U.S
Marines are engaged in a major anti-insurgency offensive in the south
of the country.
The bomb explosion occurred in the central
province of Logar and officials say that several policemen are also
among those killed.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zamary
Bashary tells VOA the explosive was hidden in a timber truck overturned
on the side of the road the night before. The bomb was detonated, he
says, when local police arrived in the morning to check the abandoned
"We are really sorry to say that among those 25
people, 15 of them are school children who were getting in to their
school and they saw the vehicle that was overturned and they just came
nearby to see what is going on with the vehicle, which was detonated
and unfortunately killed all of them in a very cruel and inhuman way,"
The number of people killed in the attack is the worst death toll from a single blast in Afghanistan this year.
insurgents have stepped up attacks on local and foreign targets in
recent months, provoking NATO and U.S forces to launch a major
offensive in the militant-dominated southern province of Helmand.
Thousands of U.S. Marines are involved in the assault, the biggest since
international forces ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001.
Military commanders have not reported any major engagement with militants in Helmand.
there is no let up in insurgent attacks on Afghan civilians and on
local, as well as coalition forces across the country. The violence
has left up to 20 foreign troops dead in the past week, most of them
from the United States and Britain.
NATO officials reported deaths of two more soldiers on Thursday in southern Afghanistan, but gave no other details.
speaking to reporters in neighboring Pakistan, chairman of the NATO's
military committee, Admiral Giampaolo di Paola described the offensive
in Afghanistan's Helmand Province as an important step toward
eliminating Taliban strongholds in southern parts of the country. He
says that Helmand Province is also known for producing most of the
narcotics in Afghanistan that the NATO official says is feeding the
Taliban terror activities.
"So now that we are going in to try
to clear and hold [the ground] and to protect and allow the people of
that region to live more safe, to have the freedom to go to vote, to
have the freedom to go to schools, to have the freedom to send women in
the activity they feel appropriate for women, well I think this is a
very important step we are taking to dry down the breathing ground of
terror," he said.
Afghanistan's southern provinces are seen as
the center of the Taliban-led insurgency. Coalition commanders believe
some of the top Taliban leaders have taken refuge in the southwestern
Pakistani province of Baluchistan, which borders southern parts of
Afghanistan, but Pakistan denies the allegation.