At least six Afghan children were killed today after a bomb exploded in central Afghanistan's impoverished Ghor province, officials said.
The children, aged between seven and 14, were grazing animals in Taywara district when they found the device partially buried under the mud, provincial spokesman Abdul Hai Khatibi said.
"As they pulled a wire attached to the weaponry, the explosion went off killing seven children," Khatibi told AFP.
Provincial police chief Delawar Shah Delawar said six children were killed while one was critically wounded.
Delawar blamed the Taliban for planting the device, saying a group insurgents active in the district had attacked a nearby police checkpost two nights earlier.
"This is the Taliban's work, they have repeatedly attacked police in this district recently. They fire rockets and use mines to target our police," he said.
Delawar added that security forces in the district were preparing to launch an operation to clear insurgents from the area.
The Taliban, whose hardline regime was toppled in a US-led invasion in late 2001, were not immediately reachable for comment.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) planted on Afghan roads are a common insurgent tactic but they frequently miss their intended target -- Afghan and NATO troops -- resulting in civilian deaths.
According to the United Nations, the number of civilians killed in the war has risen steadily in the past five years, reaching a record 3,021 in 2011 -- the vast majority caused by insurgents.
A recent UN report showed child casualties from Afghan conflicts rose by over a quarter last year with an average of nearly five children killed or injured every day in 2011.