Mortar fire kills five Afghan children
A mortar shell fired by the Taliban struck a house in a village in eastern Afghanistan on Friday, killing five children from the same family, an official said. The mortar strike happened in a village in Dwamanda district of Khost province, which borders Pakistan, said Talib Mangal, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
"Taliban fighters fired a mortar on a residential house... as a result, five children were killed -- four boys and a girl," he told AFP. Mangal said two girls were also wounded when the shell hit the house. He said all of the children belonged to the same family.
Provincial health director Habib Shah Ansari said the children killed were aged between eight and 15. The Taliban did not immediately comment on the incident. Violence had dropped across much of Afghanistan after the Taliban offered a brief ceasefire to mark the Eid al-Fitr festival last month, but officials now claim that the insurgents have stepped up attacks in recent weeks.
Most attacks by the Taliban have targeted Afghan security forces, although there are regular reports of civilians killed in roadside bomb blasts. The latest bloodshed comes even as both the Taliban and Afghan government are preparing to enter into much delayed peace talks aimed at ending the war in the country.