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Afghan bomb blasts kill 6 school children

KABUL, Afghanistan Roadside bombs killed four young girls and two schoolboys in Afghanistan on Thursday while a police inspector was gunned down on her way to work, officials said.

The girls, aged 10 to 12 years, had been sent by their families to a river to fetch some water for a wedding that was being held in a home on the outskirts of the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, Helmand governor's spokesman Ummar Zawaq said.

The bomb went off alongside a footpath through a field the girls had taken to make their way back home, Zawaq said.

Also in Lashkar Gah on Thursday morning, two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a female police inspector who was being taken to work by her son-in-law on his motorcycle, Zawaq said. Inspector Islam Bibi was rushed to the hospital with her wounds but died there about an hour later, he said. Her son-in-law was also wounded.

And in the eastern province of Paktika, two schoolboys were killed on their way walking home from classes in the afternoon when they triggered a roadside bomb, the governor's office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the NATO-led coalition said one of its service members was killed in fighting Thursday in western Afghanistan. It gave no further details.

The violence came a day after a senior U.S. official told the Associated Press that the Taliban wouldn't join talks with the United States and the Afghan government because of a dispute over the name of its representative office in Qatar.

The official said the Taliban never replied to an offer to meet U.S. diplomats in Doha on June 23 and are now resisting peace talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government, as the Taliban previously had agreed. The official said the Taliban have taken those positions because they insist their facility in Qatar be called the "Political Office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" and be identified as such on an exterior sign. They also want to fly the same flag they flew when the ruled Afghanistan, the official said.

The United States and Afghanistan objected to the name, the sign and the flag when the office first opened in mid-June. They say an agreement brokered with the Taliban allows them to call the facility "The Political Office of the Taliban" or "The Political Office of the Taliban Movement," neither of which implies that it represents a sovereign government.

Violence this year has matched its worst levels in nearly 12 years of war. According to the most recent figures from the Interior Ministry, 180 civilians were killed across Afghanistan last month.

In the same time frame, 299 police officers and 753 militants were killed, the ministry said. The Defense Ministry did not have similar figures for the Afghan army.

In other violence Thursday, 11 Taliban militants were killed in two different operations in the province of Lowgar, just south of Kabul, and seven others were wounded, the Ministry of Defense said. One Afghan soldier was also killed.

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