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10 Afghan girls collecting firewood killed in blast

A blast killed 10 Afghan girls who were collecting firewood in eastern Afghanistan, according to government officials. In a separate incident, two Afghans died in an attack in Kabul. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

Updated at 9:50 a.m. ET: A blast killed 10 Afghan girls Monday as they were collecting firewood in eastern Afghanistan, government officials said.

It was not immediately clear what caused the explosion in volatile Nangarhar province. It could have been a bomb planted by Taliban insurgents or a landmine left over from decades of conflict.

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The girls, between nine and 11 years old, were collecting wood in remote Chaparhar district, near the porous border with Pakistan, which is infested with some of the world's most dangerous militant groups. 

PhotoBlog: Prayers for girls killed as they collected firewood

"Unfortunately, 10 little girls were killed and two others wounded but we don't know whether it was planted by the Taliban," said Ahmadzia Abdulzai, provincial government spokesman.

Women and children are often the victims of the war between the Taliban and U.S.-led NATO and Afghan forces, now in its 11th year.

Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images

Afghan volunteers carry the body of a girl killed when in an explosion as they were collecting firewood Monday.

Two killed in Kabul bombing
Meanwhile, a truck full of explosives blew up when it hit the offices of a U.S.-based company in the capital, Kabul, killing two Afghan civilians and wounding at least 15, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The blast took place Monday at an office for the company Contrack, which sells and supplies generators in Afghanistan.

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The Interior Ministry spokesman said that two foreigners were among the wounded, but no further details on their national identities were immediately available.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing.

"A suicide car bomber attacked an important American company which is involved in security," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

"The company was under our surveillance for a long time and today we succeeded," the statement said.

According to its website, Contrack is headquartered in McLean, Va., and has had an office in Kabul since 2003. It was acquired by Orascom in 2005.

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More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.

After Monday's blast in Kabul, Western men clutching weapons walked outside the company compound as ambulances sped by, Reuters reported. A NATO soldier walked by parts of a building that was torn apart by the blast, which left a large crater. A brick wall collapsed.

The Taliban have expanded their reach beyond their strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan to some areas in the north that were relatively peaceful for years.  

NBC News’ Akbar Shinwari and Reuters contributed to this report.

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