Afghan blasts leave 19 dead
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.
Insurgent violence in the last two weeks has killed 125 Afghan civilians and injured 287, a 24 percent increase in total civilian casualties from the same period in 2012. Anti-government forces were to blame for 84 percent of civilian casualties during the past two weeks.