Five children among dead in bomb blast

A roadside bomb killed 12 civilians, including five children, in eastern Afghanistan yesterday in an attack that President Hamid Karzai condemned as "against all principles of Islam."

A spokesman for the governor of Paktika province, Mokhlis Afghan, said another five people were wounded when the bomb exploded next to a truck carrying civilians. He said the dead included five children, five men and two women. The truck was travelling between the towns of Turwa and Wazakhwa.

The interior ministry confirmed the attack but said only 10 people were killed. It was not possible immediately to reconcile the difference in numbers. Nato said initial reports indicated the truck hit a bomb planted in the road.

"This blatant disregard for innocent Afghan lives is appalling," said Rear Admiral Vic Beck, Nato's director of public affairs.

Paktika borders Pakistan's lawless tribal areas, used as safe havens by insurgents fighting coalition troops in Afghanistan. Insurgents regularly cross the rugged frontier to attack coalition forces and the region has seen an increase in fighting, as well as a rise in casualties.

Nato operations against insurgents in the area have caused friction with the Karzai administration in recent weeks following government charges that military forces have caused a number of civilian deaths and casualties.

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