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Afghan bomb kills 12 civilans

06 marca, 2011

A roadside bomb ripped through a car in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 12 civilians, as hundreds of people protested angrily in Kabul over the deaths of nine children in a NATO air raid.

The Taliban-style home-made device struck the car in the province of Paktika, killing five children, two women and five men, the provincial administration said in a statement.

The victims were on their way from neighbouring Pakistan, it said, without giving further details.

Mohibullah Samim, the provincial governor, blamed the bombing on "enemies of peace who once again revealed their tyrant face to the public," the statement added.

Afghan officials use this term to refer to Taliban and other insurgents who are engaged in an increasingly bloody campaign aimed at toppling the pro-US government of President Hamid Karzai.

Rebels loyal to the Taliban and other militant groups often use improvised -- or home-made -- bombs in attacks against Afghan security forces and their Western military backers.

There are about 140,000 foreign military forces operating in Afghanistan under the command of the United States.

Bombs are usually planted on public roads and often kill civilians instead of their military targets. A similar device on February 26 killed nine civilians in Khost province, which borders Paktika.

Sunday\'s incident follows a string of militant attacks and military operations by foreign forces that have caused dozens of civilian deaths.

Nine children were killed on Tuesday in an air raid carried out by coalition helicopters in the eastern province of Kunar.

The strike was against insurgents who had attacked a military post but it hit the children by mistake, according to military officials.

President Karzai angrily condemned the killings and US President Barack Obama and General David Petraeus, the commander of the US-led troops in Afghanistan, apologised for the incident.

About 500 people poured onto the streets of Kabul on Sunday and chanted anti-American slogans over the deaths.

Marching through central Kabul they shouted "Death to America -- Death to the invaders." A placard carried by a veiled woman read: "Occupation = killing + destruction."

The protest follows similar demonstrations in Kunar over the deaths of the children, who were killed while collecting firewood in the province\'s Dar-e-Pech district.

NATO\'s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the children were mistaken for rebels

"We don\'t want the invading forces," chanted one demonstrator carrying posters of the dead children. Another shouted: "Death to the government of President Hamid Karzai!"

"When I saw the demonstration and realised it is against the Americans I joined," Azizullah, one of the protesters, who uses one name, told AFP.

Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan.

Karzai says deaths of civilians in military operations turn people against his pro-US administration. Civilian casualties have been a key source of tension between Kabul and its Western backers, the US and NATO.

A week before the children were killed, Karzai said troops had killed 65 non-combatants during operations in Kunar province\'s Ghaziabad district.

That was followed by another incident in which Afghan authorities said troops killed six civilians in neighbouring Nangarhar province, also in an air raid.