President Hamid Karzai is accusing the Taliban of using a 12-year-old as a suicide bomber and sending him to carry out an attack on Sunday that killed a local council member and three other civilians in eastern Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai says the bombing targeted civilians and that the use of children and youths in terrorist attacks is inhumane and un-Islamic. The attack took place in Paktika province, 260 km south of the capital.

It comes one day after the Taliban announced the beginning of its spring offensive. In a statement released on Saturday, the insurgent movement announced it would step up operations against military bases, convoys and Afghan officials, including members of the peace council working to reconcile with top insurgent leaders.

The deadliest of Sunday's attacks, the bombing in a bazaar in the Barmal district of the eastern Paktika province on the border with Pakistan, killed four civilians and wounded 12. Sher Nawaz, the head of a new district council in the Shakeen area of Paktika province, was among the dead and was likely the target of the attack.

In the southwest province of Ghazni, a gunman opened fire on a checkpoint, killing two policemen and wounding a bystander during an hour-long battle. In a separate attack in Ghazni, militants detonated a bicycle rigged with explosives outside the provincial police headquarters, wounding 13 civilians.

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