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12-year-old suicide bomber strikes in Afghanistan

A 12-year-old suicide bomber has killed four people a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan, in one of several attacks on the first day of a Taliban spring offensive.

Afghanistan suicide boy 2011 5 1Enlarge
Pakistani tribesmen march towards transport upon their return to homeland in Jandola, about 20 miles from Tank on April 30, 2011. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A 12-year-old suicide bomber has killed four people a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan, in one of several attacks on the first day of a Taliban  spring offensive.

In a separate attack in in southern Ghazni Province, a gunman opened fire at a police checkpoint, killing two police officers and two civilians. And a bicycle bomb near Ghazni City's police station wounded 13 civilians, BBC reports.

In Logar Province militants ambushed a convoy of NATO troops, starting a firefight in which three children were killed by Taliban fire, district governor Mohammad Rahim Amin told Agence France-Presse. The dead children were aged between eight and 14 years old, Amin said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on behalf of the group and all other Sunday attacks except that in Logar Province, AFP reports.

The attacks followed a Taliban declaration Saturday that its spring military operations would focus on attacks against military bases, air bases, convoys, heads of foreign and local companies, and members of the local government, CNN reports.

The 12-year-old boy — thought to be one of the country's youngest-ever suicide attackers — detonated explosives in his vest to kill the head of the Shaken district council, Shernawaz Khan, and two others, said a spokesman for the Paktika provincial governor.

International organizations, including the U.N., have warned their staff not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary, according to the BBC.

In Kandahar, in the south, and in other cities across the country, thousands of extra soldiers and police have been deployed in anticipation of a Taliban offensive.

Also, a gradual withdrawal of foreign combat troops is set to begin in July as part of a handover to Afghan security forces.

Meanwhile, dozens of Pakistani families have returned to South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, with U.N. and government help to rebuild their lives after major fighting against the Taliban, AFP reports.

The process is expected to see 8,000 families go to more than 10 villages in South Waziristan, part of the tribal areas that Washington has branded a global headquarters of Al Qaeda and the most dangerous place on Earth.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/110501/afghanistan-suicide-bomber-boy-taliban-spring-offensive