KABUL, Afghanistan – A powerful truck bomb on Thursday killed at least 25 people, more than half of them children, in an eastern province near Kabul. Authorities speculated that the explosives-laden vehicle was intended for an attack in the capital.
Three U.S. soldiers also were killed by roadside bombs, the American military said, two in southern Afghanistan and one in the east.
The incidents followed a pattern of escalating violence in widely scattered areas of Afghanistan.
The truck blast took place in Lowgar province. The vehicle, traveling on Afghanistan’s main north-south highway, apparently ran off the road and overturned before dawn. When police and civilians approached after daybreak and tried to right the truck, it blew up, the Interior Ministry said.
Most of the dead were civilians, including at least 13 students from a nearby primary school, local officials said. The thunderous blast left a huge crater in the highway, hurled debris over a wide area and collapsed several nearby shops and homes.
The truck was piled high with a load of timber, with the payload of explosives buried underneath, police said. Officials were trying to determine if it was triggered remotely when police and other help arrived or if it detonated when the truck was moved.
Ghulam Mustafa, the Lowgar police chief, said the truck’s driver had disappeared, and officials were looking into the possibility that the Taliban had been in the midst of transporting the explosives to the capital.