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15 children killed in Afghanistan blast

On 18 December, a suspected rickshaw bomb killed at least 15 civilians, all children, in Ghazni province, eastern Afghanistan.

The spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Tariq Arian, said that an additional 20 people were wounded.

An unidentified man entered the village of Aghao Jan on a motorized rickshaw to sell goods at the market. He was soon surrounded by children- at which point the explosive device was detonated.

“Most of the victims were under 18 years old”, said Wahidullah Jumazada, spokesman for the provincial governor of Ghazni. He added that an investigation had begun into why children seem to have been deliberately targeted.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Taliban has strongly denied its involvement. Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued a statement on social media claiming that the explosion was caused by remnants of unexploded ordinance in the area, which children had allegedly picked up and brought to the merchant. Mujahid’s statement conflicts with the accounts of the Afghan government and local authorities who have reported that the explosive weapons were planted inside the vehicle. These differing reports could not be reconciled as the area is under Taliban control and off limits to reporters.

Violence has escalated in Afghanistan in recent months and the political situation remains precarious as Taliban and government representatives hold peace talks in Doha. Attacks such as these potentially jeopardize the ongoing negotiations.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources.

In 2020 AOAV has recorded 3,209 civilian casualties and 2,553 military casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan.

AOAV has also recorded at least 403 child casualties from explosive violence in Afghanistan in 2020.

AOAV strongly condemns the attack in Ghanzi and urgently calls for states to collaborate to address the threat of explosive violence. The use of explosive weaponry in populated areas has far reaching implications and preventative measures must be implemented to reduce the serious impact on civilians.