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Nangarhar explosion kills many children

December 17, 2012

By Tim Foxley

Summary: An explosion in Nangarhar has killed and injured many children in eastern Afghanistan today.  This may fuel the propaganda war but the real cause may remain unclear.

Mine awareness poster

BBC: 17 December 2012

At least 10 young girls have been killed and two others 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 spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province said.  Most of those killed were aged between nine and 11, officials said.

It is, of course, an all too depressingly regular story from Afghanistan.  It is very unlikely to be clear who might have been responsible for the explosion – even if it does become clear what kind of device might have exploded.  Many groups will have a preferred culprit to blame, but the resources to investigate such incidents are extremely limited (and will probably become even more so in the coming years) and unhelpfully emotive “knee-jerk” accusations and counter-accusations (particularly between insurgents and the Afghan government) are likely to dominate any subsequent discussion.  The BBC rightly notes:

There are conflicting reports as to whether the landmine in Nangarhar was planted by insurgents or was a mine 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 Russian era.

But, ultimately, in the absence of evidence proving things one way or the other, minimising poorly thought-through accusations will be better for the insurgents/Afghan government/international community dialogue that still must come.

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