KABUL, Afghanistan -- Thursday was another bad day for girls in Afghanistan.
Four girls ages 5 to 8 who were at a wedding party in southern Helmand Province went out to fetch water from a hand pump, and as they were carrying the buckets of water back one of the girls stepped on a hidden bomb, which exploded and killed all of them, according to Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
It was another bad day for boys, as well. Two schoolboys on their way home, ages 10 and 12, tripped a roadside bomb in the Sarawza district of Paktika Province in the east and were killed, according to Mokhlis Afghan, a spokesman for the provincial governor, Muhibullah Samim.
"Such attacks on civilians, and especially on schoolchildren, show that the sworn enemies of Afghanistan cannot tolerate seeing our children going to school," Mr. Samim said.
A recent report by United Nations officials here found an alarming rise in civilian casualties, particularly among children, with more than three-fourths of those casualties attributable to attacks or bombs planted by the insurgents.
Of 3,092 civilian casualties this year through early June, 21 percent of them were children, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year.
Thursday was also a bad day for the halting effort to integrate women into Afghanistan's police forces. One of southern Afghanistan's few female police officers, Islam Bibi, was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle as she was walking in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand. She later died of her wounds at the hospital. Her son-in-law, also a police officer, was wounded in the attack as well, according to Shah Mahmoud Ashna, a spokesman for the police in Helmand.
It was the second assassination of a female police officer in the past two months.
"The enemy is trying to create an atmosphere of fear, which is why they started this assassination campaign against female police officers," Mr. Ashna said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.