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12-year-old suicide bomber kills four civilians in eastern Afghanistan

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12-year-old suicide bomber kills four civilians in eastern Afghanistan

2011-05-01 20:43:11 GMT+7 (ICT)

KABUL (BNO NEWS) -- At least four civilians were killed on early Sunday morning when a 12-year-old suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded market in eastern Afghanistan, officials said.

The suicide attack happened at around 7.30 a.m. local time at a market in the Ashkin Bazaar area of Barmal district, located in Paktika province. Among those killed was Shkin district council chief Sher Nawz Khan.

"The leadership of the Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan condemns in the strongest terms this suicide attack and prays for quick recovery of those injured and expresses its sincere condolences to the families of the victims," a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said.

A statement from the governor's office said the attack killed four civilians, while at least 12 others were injured. It said a 12-year-old child had carried out the suicide bombing.

It was not immediately clear which group was behind the attack, but the bombing comes on the first day of the Taliban's so-called spring offensive in which it pledges a series of high-profile terror attacks.

"With the approach of the spring, the Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban) wants to declare the launching of the spring military operations christened as 'Badar' to be waged against the invading Americans and their foreign Allies and internal supports," the Taliban said in a statement on Saturday.

The Badar operations, which the Taliban said would begin on Sunday, will target military bases, places of gatherings, airbases and military convoys of coalition forces. "Throughout the operations, the target of [Taliban] attacks must remain foreign invading forces, members of their spy networks and (other) spies, high-ranking officials of the Kabul Puppet Administration, both military and civilian, members of the cabinet, members of the parliament, Heads of foreign and local companies working for the enemy and contractors," the group said.

And although Taliban operations often cause civilian casualties, the statement said its militants should minimize civilian casualties during the operations. "Strict attention must be paid to the protection and safety of civilians during the spring operations by working out a meticulous military plan," it said, while warning Afghan civilians to avoid gatherings, convoys, and centers of coalition forces.

But the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in response to the statement, said the Taliban's spring offensive is aimed to gain a propaganda victory. "This violence will have no lasting impact in light of the gains Afghan and coalition forces have made through the winter," Major Sunset Belinsky, an ISAF spokeswoman, said on Saturday.

Belinsky said the Taliban and other insurgent groups think attacks can exert power, relevance and influence over the Afghan population. "These are, in fact, a sign of their impotence and desperation," she said. "We expect violent attacks, intimidation, and cowardly targeting of civilians to continue. The insurgents will try to exploit these attacks and recent events to attempt to undermine the transition process and create the perception that [Afghan National Security Forces] cannot sustain security."

ISAF said it will support the Afghan government in its efforts to protect citizens from attacks and noted that insurgents have suffered 'increasing setbacks' over the past several months.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-05-01

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