TEN young girls were killed by a landmine as they collected firewood in eastern Afghanistan this morning.
One of the girls hit the mine with an axe in the volatile Nangarhar province.
The girls, between nine and 11, were collecting wood in remote Chaparhar district, near the border with Pakistan, which is infested with some of the world's most dangerous militant groups.
"Unfortunately, 10 little girls were killed and two others wounded but we don't know whether it was planted by the Taliban," said Ahmadzia Abdulzai, provincial government spokesman.
“Most of those killed were aspiring engineers, doctors and teachers. Only four bodies can be recognised," a tribal elder told the BBC.
"This area was used during fighting against Russians but the Taliban and Afghan government are also fighting in this area."
Women and children are often the victims of the war between the Taliban and US-led NATO and Afghan forces, now in its eleventh year.
Many Afghans are growing increasingly worried that the nation could face another civil war or a major Taliban push to seize power again when most NATO combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
Meanwhile, a bomb in the capital Kabul killed one person and wounded 15 today.
The blast took place on a street where several bases for foreign troops are located.
Afghanistan's Taliban movement and their allies, the Haqqani network, one of the most lethal foes of Western troops in Afghanistan, have been blamed for several high-profile attacks in the capital.
Kabul Police Chief General Ayoub Salangi said explosive materials planted in a small truck near an industrial area killed one person and wounded 15.
The government is scrambling to improve security ahead of the withdrawal of most US-led NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.