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Suspected old ordnance kills four Afghan children, wounds six

November 18, 2011 |  7:53 am

REPORTING FROM KABUL, AFGHANISTAN -- The war in Afghanistan claims civilian and military lives nearly every day. But the country’s prior conflicts exact a toll as well.

Authorities in Nangarhar province, in Afghanistan’s east, said four children were killed and another six injured in an explosion in a field used as a playground. All were believed to be under the age of 12.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial government, said the explosion occurred at mid-morning on Friday, the main Muslim prayer day of the week, when most people have the day off from work and school. He said the six injured children were hospitalized, some with serious injuries.

Abdulzai said preliminary indications were that the blast was caused by ordnance left over from one of Afghanistan’s previous wars. The Soviet invasion in 1979 set off a decade-long conflict, and a devastating civil war broke out soon after, setting the stage for the rise of the Taliban movement.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and maimed in the current struggle between the Taliban and the U.S.-led coalition. The United Nations says insurgents are responsible for about three-quarters of noncombatants’ deaths, most of them caused by suicide bombings or improvised explosive devices, known as IEDs.

Also Friday, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force reported the death of a service member in southern Afghanistan due to an IED. In line with usual military practice, the nationality was not immediately disclosed.

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-- Laura King

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