Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Attack kills six outside Kabul

CHILDREN KILLED A bomb near a NATO-led unit left `three or four' children dead in a scenic town in the Paghman Mountains, a normally quiet area popular for picnics

AGENCIES , KABUL AND PAGHMAN, AFGHANISTAN

Italian soldiers with the International Security Assistance Force block the road after a suicide attack in Paghman, Afghanistan, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

A suicide bomber blew himself up yesterday in a scenic Afghan town near Kabul, killing six people -- most of them children -- and wounding 12, officials said.

Four of those wounded were Italian engineers, they added.

Interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary earlier said six children were killed in the attack near a NATO-led unit in Paghman, about 25km west of Kabul, but later he said some adults were among the dead.

"Most of them were children, maybe three or four, the rest of them were adults," he said.

"My brother was covered with blood and I saw a huge cloud of smoke rising and when I put my hand to my head and I realized I was also wounded," said Hanifa, a small girl, as she was carried to an ambulance.

Four Italians and eight Afghan civilians were hurt, he said, with initial reports indicating the Italians were working on a bridge under construction in the area.

"It is not clear yet whether they are civilian engineers or army soldiers," Bashary said.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which includes around 2,390 Italian soldiers, confirmed its forces were involved in the incident but would not provide the nationalities or details of what happened.

"We are aware of an incident. It was ISAF troops," an official in the media office said.

Most Italian soldiers in Afghanistan are stationed in the west of the nation, but Italy also has troops in Kabul involved in reconstruction and development projects meant to win Afghan "hearts and minds."

The blast was near the center of a normally quiet town that sits at the foothills of the Paghman mountains and is a popular picnic spot for Afghans.

ISAF soldiers had blocked off the area, a reporter said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The hardline Islamist Taliban have killed at least 200 civilians in more than 140 suicide attacks so far this year in their campaign to oust the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the more than 50,000 foreign troops from the nation.

Afghanistan has witnessed escalating violence since the Taliban relaunched their insurgency two years ago. Since then, more than 7,000 people have been killed.

The deadliest attack was early this month and led to the deaths of nearly 80 people, most of them schoolchildren. It is still not clear who was responsible for that blast.

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