Babylon & Beyond

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AFGHANISTAN: Taliban bomber kills 14 children in attack

December 29, 2008 | 10:21 am


One of the more horrifying aspects of the struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere has been the slaughter of school children and the conversion of their schools into instruments of warfare.

In the early days of the U.S.-led the invasion of Iraq, troops found schools where Saddam Hussein had stockpiled weaponry in classrooms, including closets full of suicide vests.

In northwest Pakistan, as The Times' Laura King reports this morning, several children were among those killed when a suicide-car bomber sought to disrupt voting. A school was being used as a polling place and children had accompanied their parents.

And in Afghanistan, a suicide-bomber driving an SUV apparently targeted children walking near their school in the eastern province of Khowst. Fourteen children were killed, along with an Afghan soldier, and 58 Afghans were injured, officials said.

A surveillance video shows that the bomber could have waited for the children to walk past but decided instead to detonate his explosives, U.S. officials said. A Taliban spokesman was quoted calling the bomber a martyr.

"There was no martyr here," said U.S. Army Col. Jerry O'Hara. "A real martyr would have taken a bullet to save those children."

-- Tony Perry, San Diego

Photo: Bloody textbooks and shoes are scattered after a suicide attack near a primary school in Khowst province east of Kabul. Credit: Associated Press

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