Connect to share and comment

Afghanistan: 9 girls killed by landmine in Nangarhar province

At least nine girls, all aged between nine and 11, died in an explosion in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan.

Nangarhar province afghanistanEnlarge
At least nine girls were killed in an explosion in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. They are thought to have disturbed an old landmine while they collected firewood. (TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

At least nine girls were killed today in an explosion in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan.

They are thought to have disturbed a landmine while they collected firewood near their village, local officials told the Washington Post.

Another three children were injured in the blast.

All of the victims were aged between nine and 11 years old, according to the Post, though the New York Times cited reports that some were as young as six.

"Most of those killed were aspiring engineers, doctors and teachers," one tribal elder told the BBC.

Pictures from the scene show the bodies laid out under sheets and rugs, surrounded by dozens of mourners.

It's not clear whether the mine was planted recently or left over from a previous conflict.

According to the Times, local police said the bomb probably dated from several years earlier, during Afghanistan's civil war of the 1990s or even the Soviet occupation from 1979-88.

"Over three decades of conflict, Afghanistan became one of the most heavily mined countries on earth," General John Allen, the head of NATO's coalition forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

There was another, separate explosion today near Kabul, Reuters reported. The Taliban said one of its suicide bombers detonated the blast, which targeted the offices of US contracter Contrack International.

Two Afghan civilians were reported killed and fifteen others injured, including two foreigners.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/121217/afghanistan-girls-killed-landmine-nangarhar