2 Afghan school cricketers killed in mortar attack

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Two young Afghan cricketers were killed and two other people wounded during a match between local schools on Tuesday when the pitch was hit by mortar fire, a local official and a witness said.

The school teams were playing in Paktia province, south of the capital Kabul, when they were struck by insurgents, the provincial governor’s spokesman Abdullah Hasrat said.

“In the middle of the match, three rockets fired by the Taliban from a nearby mountain hit the ground, killing two players aged 14 and 15, and injuring the umpire and one of the spectators,” he said.

The incident was witnessed by local resident Mohammad Wasim, who also reported three explosions.

“The mortars were fired from a mountain in the distance. The first hit outside a school, the second near the border police base and the third hit in the middle of the ground where the cricket match was happening,” he said.

There was no immediate comment from the Taliban, the main insurgent group in the country.

Cricket has soared in popularity in Afghanistan in recent years, thanks in large part to many Afghans learning the game while growing up in refugee camps in neighbouring Pakistan. The Afghan national cricket team is playing in this year’s World Cup in England and Wales, but they have yet to win a match.