UK & World News
Afghanistan Blasts: 'Eight Kids Among Dead'
Seventeen civilians, reportedly including eight children, have been killed in two separate suicide bomb attacks in Afghanistan.
The first attack took place in the eastern city of Khost, where unconfirmed reports have suggested eight children and one policeman were killed. The target of the attack was said to be Afghan and international forces.
"A suicide attacker blew up his explosives on a road beside a joint patrol of Afghan police and international forces in the city of Khost," the provincial governor of Khost said in a statement.
A policeman reportedly spotted the bomber who was on foot and 'hugged' him to himself in an attempt to take most of the blast, Khost deputy police chief Mohammad Yaqub Mandozay said.
However several boys aged 12 to 14 who were nearby were caught in the explosion.
The second attack was carried out in Kabul during a visit by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The bomber rode up to the defence ministry on a bicycle before detonating the blast 30 metres from the front gate.
Mr Hagel was in a briefing room some distance away and was not hurt, though he was moved to a more secure location after the explosion.
An Afghan soldier found at the scene covered in blood said he had helped carry five people away from the scene.
The Taliban said they carried out the Kabul attack, which they said was "a kind of message" for Mr Hagel, who is on his first trip abroad in his new role.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, said: "This was not a direct attack to target him but we want to send a message that we are always capable of hitting Kabul - even when the top US defence official is there."
The blast underscored the security challenges facing Afghanistan as US-led Nato forces prepare to leave the country by the end of 2014.
Mr Hagel is in Kabul to make an assessment of America's longest war as it enters its final stretch.
The Vietnam veteran's advice could help shape Barack Obama's decisions on Afghanistan, notably how large a remaining force to keep there after 2014 when most foreign forces will leave.
"We have a lot of big issues and challenges ahead as we prepare for a responsible transition," he told reporters on his plane before he arrived.
"That transition has to be done right; it has to be done in partnership with the Afghans (and) with our allies."
Hello, regular commenting on Orange News and Sport pages closes on Thursday 30 May 2013. We will continue to provide a commenting facility on major news and sport events on orangeworld.co.uk. Contact us via http://oran.ge/OWfeedback if you have any further questions. Thanks.