KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - One Afghan child was killed and two children seriously wounded on Saturday when the Taliban exploded a vehicle by the side of a road as a NATO military convoy passed, officials said.
Another Afghan civilian was also seriously wounded while a coalition soldier suffered minor injuries in the attack which took place in the southern province of Kandahar.
“The military vehicle is still burning, smoke is rising from it,” Gul Ahmad, a witness, told Reuters. “There are casualties.”
Residents earlier said the rebels fired rockets on the convoy while police had said a suicide bomber had rammed an explosives-laden car into the convoy.
“This is another example of the Taliban extremists’ callous disregard for human life,” Major-General Ton van Loon said in a NATO statement.
“They target ISAF and government of Afghanistan forces, however, in doing so, they indiscriminately kill and maim innocent Afghans, including children,” he said, referring to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.
The Taliban have stepped up operations in their old heartland ahead of an anticipated spring offensive against government and Western forces. NATO and Afghan troops last week launched their biggest operation so far to pre-empt the rebels.
Last year saw the worst violence in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001.