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Suicide car bomb kills six children

A suicide car bomber blew himself up next to a police van taking a southern Afghan official to work on Monday morning, killing six children nearby, officials said.

The blast went off at about 9am local time near a market area in Dand district to the west of Kandahar city, according to the official - district government chief Ahmadullah Nazak.

"I dropped down. Then I heard a second explosion," Nazak said. "It hit our car, but it didn't injure me." The Interior Ministry originally said five children were killed in the blast, and Nazak said a sixth had died by early afternoon.

A bodyguard who was driving with Nazak was wounded, he said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but it fits the pattern of Taliban attacks targeting government officials in the south. As additional US forces have poured into southern Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces, insurgents have mounted a counter-campaign of bombings and assassinations aimed at those affiliated with the Afghan government.

Militants attacked a second government official in the east the same day. The convoy of a presidential adviser was hit by a remote-controlled bomb hidden in a rickshaw as it was driving through Jalalabad city, said Ghafar Khan, a police spokesman in Nangarhar province. The adviser - Wahidullah Sabaoun - was wounded but not seriously, Khan said.

In eastern Nuristan province, NATO and Afghan troops attacked two villages that had been held by Taliban fighters, killing more than 30 insurgents as they secured the Bachancha and Badmuk villages, NATO said in a statement. Two Afghan soldiers were killed, NATO added.

It was not possible to get independent confirmation on the casualty toll in what is one of the country's most remote provinces.

The attacks were part of an ongoing effort to secure the area around the village of Barg-e-Matal, which has shuttled between government and insurgent control in recent months.

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