Officials: NATO forces kill four Afghan school students The Education Ministry said in a statement that the four dead were students, aged 11 to 17.


Deutsche Presse-Agentur


The
body of a child lies in a coffin decorated with flowers in Khost
province on April 20, 2010. Four children were killed April 19 in
crossfire between foreign soldiers and insurgents in eastern
Afghanistan, the education ministry said on April 20. (Photo: Getty
Images)

April 20, 2010 – DPA

Kabul –
Afghan officials said Tuesday that NATO forces shot dead four Afghan
school students, but NATO said those killed were Taliban militants and
their associates.

The
incident happened around three kilometres south of Khost city, the
capital of the south-eastern province of Khost, on Monday night,
Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told
the German Press Agency dpa.

He
said all the deceased were civilians who were driving in a vehicle that
failed to stop at military checkpoint. ‘We condemn the attack,’ he said.

The Education Ministry said in a statement that the four dead were students, aged 11 to 17. The ministry condemned the attack.

However, NATO said in a statement that two of the dead people were ‘known insurgents’ and the other two were their associates.


Afghan
mourners gather to pray by the flower-decorated coffins of four
children in Khost province on April 20, 2010. Four students were killed
April 19 in crossfire between foreign soldiers and insurgents in
eastern Afghanistan, the education ministry said. (Photo: Getty Images)

A
vehicle approached a military convoy and did not stop despite warning
shots, it said, adding, ‘Several rounds were fired in an attempt to
disable the vehicle, and finally shots were fired into the vehicle
itself.’

‘All four died of wounds at the scene,’ it said.

Civilian
casualties at the hands of international troops have become a delicate
issue in Afghanistan. Such deaths have become the main source of
tension between the Afghan government and foreign troops.

‘We
have a simple objective when it comes to civilian casualties,’ Mark
Sedwill, the senior NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan, said
at a press conference on Tuesday in Kabul. ‘And that is one civilian
casualty is one too many. We will make all efforts to avoid them.’

Separately,
a bomb strapped to a bicycle was detonated in the centre of Khost city
close to the main police headquarters on Tuesday, causing no death or
damage, Zadran said.

Meanwhile,
unknown gunmen shot dead a deputy mayor in the southern province of
Kandahar in what the Interior Ministry on Tuesday called a ‘terrorist
attack.’

Azizullah
Zeyarmal was en route Monday night to a mosque in the provincial
capital, also called Kandahar, when unknown gunmen opened fire on him,
the ministry said in statement.

Zeyarmal died on his way to hospital, Mohammad Shah Farouqi, deputy provincial police chief, said.

No
group took responsibility for the attack. However, the ministry said
the attack was carried out ‘by enemies of Afghanistan,’ a term often
used by Afghan officials to describe Taliban militants.

The
shooting came hours after three children were killed and four other
people were injured when a bomb hidden in a donkey-drawn cart exploded
in front of the residence of influential tribal chief Haji Fazelluddin
in the centre of Kandahar city.

Fazelluddin, a former district governor for Spin Boldak, was unhurt in the attack, but three of his nephews were killed.

On
Thursday, a suicide bomber carried out an attack in the centre of
Kandahar city, killing three Afghans and wounding around two dozen
people, including foreign contractors.

Attacks
that bear the hallmark of Taliban militants are on the rise in
Kandahar, the spiritual home and birthplace of the Taliban, ahead of a
much-publicized military operation in the province in the coming months.

Afghan
and NATO officials have said their offensive was under way in the
province, but it is to get a push in summer when thousands of
additional US troops arrive in the region.

The
total number of foreign troops in Afghanistan is set to rise to 150,000
from more than 125,000 currently stationed in the war-torn country.


Afghans
carry bodies of four people killed when they ignored warnings to stop
by one of NATO’s convoys in Khost province late Monday, southeast of
Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. NATO said two of those
killed in the incident were later identified as "known insurgents,"
although the provincial chief of police said the dead were all
civilians, and included a 12-year-old child. (Photo: AP)


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