Asia

Afghan landmine blast kills girls in Nangarhar

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Media captionThe BBC's Orla Guerin said: "It's unclear if the Taliban planted the mine or if it dated back to the Soviet occupation"

At least nine young girls have been killed and three more injured in a landmine explosion in eastern Afghanistan, officials say.

The girls were collecting firewood when one of them hit the mine with an axe, a provincial official said. Earlier reports said 10 girls were killed.

It is unclear if the mine was recent or one left over from a previous conflict.

Meanwhile at least one person has been killed in an explosion on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.

Several more were injured in the blast, which took place on the Jalalabad road, home to many Nato bases and compounds housing international staff.

Police said the explosion happened near the offices of an international construction company, but it is unclear what the target was.

The Taliban say they carried the attack, adding that a suicide bomber drove into the compound of a US-based engineering and construction company.

Foreigners are among the wounded.

Volatile district

There are conflicting reports as to whether the landmine in Nangarhar was planted by insurgents or was left over from Afghanistan's many decades of conflict. Such unexploded mines are still commonly found in rural areas.

One spokesman said that this was a recent landmine, but another official said it dated from the Soviet occupation of the 1980s. Another landmine was found nearby.

"Most of those killed were aspiring engineers, doctors and teachers. Only four bodies can be recognised," a tribal elder told the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul.

"This area was used during fighting against Russians but the Taliban and Afghan government are also fighting in this area," the elder said.

The mine blew up near Dawlatzai village, in Nangarhar's Chaperhar district.

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