Afghanistan: Suicide bomber 'aged 12' kills four

image captionThe attacks came a day after the Taliban announced the start of a new offensive

A suicide bomber said to be aged 12 has killed four people in east Afghanistan, one of several attacks a day after the Taliban announced a spring offensive.

A dozen people were injured as the suicide bomber struck a crowded market in Paktika province, killing a local official, a woman and two other men.

In Ghazni City, a gunman opened fire at a police checkpoint, killing two police officers and two civilians.

A bicycle bomb near the city's police station wounded 13 civilians.

Lethal attacks were also also reported in Logar province south of Kabul, and in Kandahar, in the south of Afghanistan.

Among those killed in Paktika province was Sher Nawaz, the head of a district council there.

The BBC's Paul Wood in Kabul says some believe the suicide bomber, if he was 12, would be one of the youngest ever to have staged such an attack.

By one count there are more than 150 would-be suicide bombers between 13-17 years of age who have been intercepted by the Afghan security forces, he reports.

'Against Islamic principles'

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack.

"The use of children and youths who don't know the difference between right and wrong in terrorist attacks is inhumane and against all Islamic principles," he said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for all by one of Sunday's attacks, AFP news agency reported.

On Saturday the Taliban declared a new campaign to attack foreign troops, Afghan security forces and government officials.

International organisations, including the UN, have warned their staff not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary.

In Kandahar, in the south, and in other cities across the country, thousands of extra soldiers and police have been deployed.

A gradual withdrawal of foreign combat troops is set to begin in July as part of a handover to Afghan security forces.

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