Although President Donald Trump and his administration have made unprecedented progress in fighting global terrorism, the world was reminded Saturday that the fight must continue.
An explosion in the Afghan province of Ghazni has claimed the lives of at least 15 children and injured over a dozen others after a bomb was detonated in the back of a rickshaw on Friday, local law enforcement said, according to BBC.
There are a number of varying reports about how the nightmare scenario unfolded, but local residents said an unidentified man drove his rickshaw into a village in the Gilan district, where moments later a piece of ordnance exploded.
Wahidullah Jumazada, a spokesperson for the Ghazni provincial governor, said the man was reportedly surrounded by children as he entered the village on his rickshaw, BBC reported.
The explosion happened in close proximity to a house in the village where a Quran recital ceremony was taking place.
A Taliban spokesperson gave a different version of events, claiming the explosion was accidental and only happened after the children approached the vendor rickshaw driver as he made his way into the village and attempted to sell him the piece of unexposed ordnance.
The latest reports indicate that the casualty toll from the blast could continue to rise as rescuers comb the scene.
According to ABC News Australia, the man had a bomb rigged to the rickshaw and purposely exploded it as he entered the village full of children.
The Taliban denied involvement in the bombing as authorities worked to determine why the children were targeted in the alleged attack.
The blast comes on the heels of a spike in violence in the region, as the Trump administration prepares to initiate a massive withdraw of U.S. troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S forces in Afghanistan will drop from 4,500 to 2,500 by Jan. 15, according to Trump’s reduction plan, The Hill reported.
Critics of Trump’s plan to reduce the U.S. troop presence in the area argue that pulling so many troops out in such a rapid manner will lead to a spike in terrorist-related violence in both countries.
Just days before the Ghazni bomb attack, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley met with Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar to discuss aspects of an agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. He later flew to Kabul to speak directly with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about controlling the rising violence in the region.