A suicide bomber targeting an American military delegation outside a government office in eastern Afghanistan killed 13 people on Monday, including 10 schoolchildren who were walking nearby and two international service members, officials said.
According to AP, the attack comes as the militants step up bombings and raids on police posts nationwide in a major test of the ability of Afghan soldiers and police to hold ground without international military forces, who are now withdrawing.
Gen. Zelmia Oryakhail, provincial police chief of Paktia province, said the bomber was on a motorcycle and detonated his explosives in Samkani district as American forces passed. He said a local school had just let pupils, who were between 10 and 16 years old, out for the day.
The American military delegation had just attended a security briefing at the district administrative office, said district chief Saleh Mohammad Ahsas, who was in the meeting. He said the bomber appeared to have been waiting for the delegation and struck as they left the compound, and the blast killed people walking nearby including the schoolchildren.
The U.S. military coalition in Afghanistan confirmed that two of its service members died in the explosion. It did not confirm their nationalities.
Ten schoolchildren and one Afghan police officer were killed, the Afghan Ministry of Interior said.
Seven more Afghan civilians including two children were also killed Monday in the eastern province of Laghman when their vehicle hit a bomb in the road. A statement from the provincial government said a group of four women and two children had gone with a male driver into the hills to collect firewood. On their way back, their vehicle hit the device and all inside were killed.