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Suicide bomber, 12, kills 4 in southeastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — A 12-year-old suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated himself Sunday in a market in southeastern Afghanistan's Paktika province, killing four people, including a local council chief, provincial government officials said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but a statement on the Taliban's website over the weekend announced the beginning of a fresh campaign of attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Paktika shares long border with the lawless tribal area of southern Waziristan, which is known as a haven for Taliban militants and their al Qaida associates.

Taliban insurgents have intensified their attacks against foreign and Afghan forces recently. The insurgents warned they'd launch their spring offensive Sunday, according to a statement posted in the militants' website.

In a separate incident, an explosive placed on a bike detonated in Ghazni province, injuring eight people, according to a statement from the Afghan interior ministry.

Violence has increased across Afghanistan as the U.S.-led coalition prepares to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces starting this summer.

On Wednesday, an Afghan air force pilot opened fire on U.S. trainers at Kabul's international airport, killing nine in the deadliest attack on Americans in Afghanistan in nearly six years. And last Monday, nearly 500 prisoners, mostly captured Taliban fighters, escaped from main jail of Kandahar province through a tunnel dug from a nearby house.

(Shukoor is a McClatchy special correspondent.)

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