Rockets slams into Afghan school yard near U.S. base, kills 7 students |

Rockets slams into Afghan school yard near U.S. base, kills 7 students

ASADABAD, Afghanistan – A rocket exploded in a school yard in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing seven students and wounding 34 other people in an attack possibly aimed at a nearby U.S. military base, officials said.The tragedy was the deadliest in a string of assaults on Afghanistan’s education system since the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime was ousted after the Sept. 11 attacks.Local police commander Mohammed Hasan accused the Taliban of targeting the boys school in the town of Asadabad in Kunar province. But a purported Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammed Yousaf, denied involvement.”We do not kill innocent children. This is not our work,” he said.Salabagh School is located in a steep river valley about half a mile from a U.S. base, which frequently draws militant fire. Coalition helicopters patrolled the area after the attack. A second rocket exploded in a nearby field Tuesday but hurt no one.After hearing the blast, distraught parents rushed to the school. Hundreds of boys aged from 6 to 16 were in the courtyard at the time of the missile strike, witnesses said. Pools of blood soaked into the clay ground and shoes and pieces of bloody clothing were scattered about.”I saw so many children on the ground. Many were not moving. Screams were coming from everywhere. I was crying,” 12-year-old student Omar Sahib told The Associated Press. “One teacher was lying there without a leg.”Hasan said many of the students were studying outside because the school in Asadabad, 105 miles northeast of the capital, Kabul, does not have enough classrooms.”Shrapnel from the rocket slashed through the children,” he said.Kunar Gov. Asadullah Wafa said many of the 34 wounded, including at least one teacher and a cleaner, were taken to the coalition base’s hospital. Some were airlifted for treatment to Bagram, the U.S. military’s headquarters north of Kabul.U.S. military commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley said the attack “clearly demonstrates the enemy’s complete disregard for the Afghan people.””The Afghan National Army and coalition forces will hunt down these terrorists and ensure they’re held responsible,” he said in a statement.Kunar is home to several militant groups, including al-Qaida, the Taliban and insurgents loyal to renegade former premier Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.The Taliban – which have been launching more regular, spectacular attacks – have waged a violent campaign against the country’s education system. They believe educating girls is against Islam and oppose government-funded schools for boys that teach subjects besides religion.Dozens of schools have been attacked and many burned since 2001. Most of the attacks have come at night and have not caused fatalities.But in January, a school headmaster was beheaded in front of his family after refusing to close his school. In October, gunmen shot and killed another principal in front of his students.In other violence Tuesday, two Afghans traveling in a taxi were wounded when their car hit an explosive device near the eastern city of Jalalabad, said Mohammed Akram Basharyar, the deputy police chief. No further details were available.The past year has seen a surge in violence in Afghanistan, and U.S. officials have said they expect it to worsen as warmer spring weather melts snow on high mountain passes the rebels use.Vail, Colorado

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