Afghan siblings killed by blast as they took out trash
KABUL: Every day Shah Mahmood’s children took it in turns to dump the family’s trash near their Kabul home. But this simple chore turned deadly on Sunday when a blast in the street killed two of them and wounded another.
No one appears to have witnessed the explosion on the quiet, dusty street divided by a putrid open drain, but police told AFP they believe a magnetic bomb hidden in a pile of garbage had detonated after the children touched it.
It is a tragic scene played out across war-torn Afghanistan almost every day — children killed or maimed by explosive devices left over from decades of conflict, carelessly discarded or deliberately planted.
“This is our life all around the city — it happens everywhere,” a tearful Mahmood told AFP, as he stood with a dozen male mourners in a narrow dirt lane outside his house.
“I was working as normal at the vegetable market, my children were throwing out the garbage and the bomb went off and they were killed.”
Mahmood, who has nine children, said his daughter Shabnam, 13, and his eight-year-old son Nisar died in the explosion.
Their small bodies were thrown several metres by the force of the blast, according to people who found them.
Another daughter, nine-year-old Rukhsar, was taken to the trauma facility run by Italian NGO Emergency where she underwent major surgery for multiple shrapnel wounds.
She was in critical but stable condition.
“Some people said the bomb was hidden under the (shipping) container and others were saying it was in the garbage (on the ground). It is difficult to know,” Mahmood said.
Behind the mud and brick wall of Mahmood’s home in a poor area of Khair Khana neighbourhood came the sound of grieving women wailing.
Civilians, including children, have borne the brunt of the country’s nearly 17-year conflict.
UN figures show 3,179 children were killed or wounded in 2017, accounting for almost one-third of the total civilian casualties for the year.
Improvised explosive devices, such as remotely detonated or pressure-plate bombs, killed or wounded 545 of them.
Unexploded ordnance claimed the lives of 142 children and wounded 376 in the same period.
“Conflict-related violence continues to erode the rights of children to education, healthcare, freedom of movement and other fundamental rights, as well as family life, playing outdoors and simply enjoying a childhood free of the brutal effects of war,” UNAMA’s human rights chief Danielle Bell said in a report recently.
Mahmood said Shabnam and Nisar were “calm and quiet children” who spent most of their time indoors — not uncommon in Kabul where many parents make their children play inside for fear of violence.
“My elder daughter… never went out on her own, she always wanted to have the company of her brother,” Mahmood said.
“Today, sadly, they were killed.”