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22 killed in Afghan attacks

Fourteen children were among 20 Afghans killed in new extremist attacks in insurgency-hit Afghanistan that also left two Canadian soldiers dead, security officials said.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2008 21:31 IST

Fourteen children were among 20 Afghans killed in new extremist attacks in insurgency-hit Afghanistan that also left two Canadian soldiers dead, security officials said Sunday.

The children and two adults died in a powerful suicide car bombing in the eastern province of Khost, said the NATO-led force, which has troops across the country to fight the insurgents.

The attacker blew up a bomb-filled car outside local government offices in the district of Ismail Khail, also known as Mando Zayi, as local leaders were discussing security and elections due next year, police said.

"In the process he killed 16 Afghans and wounded 58 others," NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

"Fourteen children were amongst those killed, and one was an Afghan National Army soldier."

The blast was near a school where pupils were receiving their exam results and end-of-year education certificates, police said.

District governor Dawlat Khan Qayomi said his information was that 12 children and two soldiers -- one with the national army and another with a pro-government militia -- were killed.

"The blast was so powerful that some of the casualties were turned into pieces," said Qayomi, who had been hosting the meeting with tribal elders.

He blamed the attack on Taliban insurgents who have been behind a wave of suicide bombings in Afghanistan.

Provincial health director Amir Badsha Rahmatzai said 50 wounded were in the public hospital. "Thirteen of them are children, 12 are government soldiers and three are in critical condition," he said.

One of the other wounded taken to an ISAF hospital had died, he said.

The blast was condemned by President Hamid Karzai and the United Nations.

It showed that the "enemies of Afghanistan" are "not aware of the Islamic teachings which outlaw the killing of innocent people," Karzai said.

It was not clear who was responsible for the attack, but militants from the Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001, have carried out scores of similar suicide bombings as part of an insurgency against Karzai's government.

In another blast on Sunday, a remote-controlled bomb exploded outside a music shop in the southern town of Tirin Kot, killing one person and wounding two, police said. The austere Taliban regime had outlawed non-religious music.

The Canadian military meanwhile announced that two of its soldiers were killed in a blast in southern Kandahar province on Saturday.

An Afghan policeman and an interpreter also died in the attack in Panjwayi district, a Taliban stronghold about 25 kilometres (15 miles) west of Kandahar city, Canadian military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jay Janzen told AFP.

Four other Canadian soldiers and an interpreter were wounded, he said.

More than 290 foreign soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan this year, most of them in bombings carried out by insurgents.

In 2007, just over 230 international troops were killed, according to the icasualties.org website that monitors the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In other insurgency-linked incidents, a member of the Kandahar provincial council was shot dead in a mosque late Saturday, an official said.

Mawlawi Abdul Qayom was also the imam (preacher) of the mosque, said the deputy head of the provincial religious council, Sra Jumat. It was not clear who had carried out the attack, he said.

The US military, meanwhile, reported its troops had killed five militants and detained six in operations against extremist networks on Saturday.

And the Afghan defence ministry said it had seized two tonnes of explosives in Kandahar the same day, including 15 mines and thousands of bullets.