KABUL, 3 JUNE: A suicide bomber targeting an American patrol outside a busy market in eastern Afghanistan killed 13 people today, including 10 schoolchildren nearby and two international service members, officials said.
General Zelmia Oryakhail, provincial police chief of Paktia province, said the bomber was on a motorcycle and detonated his explosives at midday outside the market in Samkani district as American forces passed. He said a local school had just let pupils out for lunch. The US military coalition in Afghanistan confirmed that two of its service members died in the explosion. It did not confirm their nationalities. Ten schoolchildren and one Afghan police officer were killed, the Afghan ministry of interior said. It did not mention the ages of the children. In recent weeks, Taliban insurgents have unleashed a wave of suicide bombers to hit government targets and international agencies in the country, and militants have been attacking police checkpoints in several provinces in a major test for the security forces of President Hamid Karzai’s government. The insurgents have also littered the country’s roads with homemade landmines and roadside bombs that often kill civilians.  In another incident, a landmine killed seven Afghan civilians in the eastern province of Laghman. A statement from the provincial government said a group of four women and two children had gone with a male driver into the hills to collect firewood. On their way back, their vehicle hit the mine.

Taliban confirm talks in Iran
Afghanistan’s Taliban confirmed today that it sent a delegation to Iran for three days of talks, signalling that Teheran could be seeking the role of regional mediator in negotiations to end its neighbour’s 12-year war. Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said in an e-mail that emissaries from the Taliban’s political office met with Iranian officials over the weekend. He said a separate group of Taliban clerics attended a religious conference in Teheran. ap