A massive bomb blast Thursday in central Afghanistan killed 25 people including 13 primary school students, destroying shops and scattering pieces of the vehicle that carried the explosives over a huge area, police said. Another bombing in the south killed two NATO soldiers.
The central Afghanistan bomb was detonated in a stationary timber truck, killing 21 civilians and four policemen in Logar province, south of Kabul, ministry spokesman Zemerai Bashary said. At least 13 of those killed were children from a nearby school, said Kamaluddin Zadran, a provincial official.
Another two schoolchildren were wounded and three others are still missing, Zadran said.
Provincial police chief Mustafa Khan said the truck had overturned late Wednesday as it traveled the main road from Logar to Kabul. After police arrived to clear the road on Thursday morning, militants apparently remotely detonated a bomb planted in the back of the truck among the timber, he said.
The power of the blast in Mohammad Agha district, close to shops that collect milk from farmers, sent truck pieces flying more than a mile (2 kilometers), said a second police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
AP Television News footage from the scene showed the explosion left a huge crater. People collected the remains of the dead, wrapping them in white and colored shrouds. Nearby mud houses had collapsed. Twisted and charred remains of a police vehicle caught in the blast were loaded onto a truck.
Lal Mohammad, a local police officer, was working his land about 100 meters (yards) away when the explosion happened.
"I saw a big fire and smoke from the main road," Mohammad said.
He ran toward the site of the explosion, and saw dead people and body parts strewn around.
"I collected five bodies myself and then picked up body parts," Mohammad said.
The explosion was so strong that a wall in Mohammad's house, about 200 yards (meters) away, collapsed.
Meanwhile, two NATO soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing Wednesday in southern Afghanistan, the military alliance said in a statement. The statement, issued Thursday, did not identify the location of the blast or the nationalities of the victims.
NATO forces in the south include U.S. Marines engaged in a major anti-Taliban offensive in Helmand province. Troops from Britain, Canada and other nations also fight under the alliance's command in the volatile region.
In the southern province of Zabul, Afghan and coalition troops battled Taliban militants who attacked a government center in Suri district early Thursday. Fifteen insurgents were killed and another was detained, said provincial police chief Abdul Rehman Sarjang.
No casualties were sustained among Afghan and foreign troops, Sarjang said.
Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency. The hard-line Islamist militia has made a violent comeback in recent years since the 2001 U.S. invasion.
This program aired on July 9, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.