Clashes, airstrikes kill 12 in Afghanistan; 17 children wounded in blast

US-led coalition forces called in airstrikes against the Taliban, killing a dozen militants during fighting in southern Afghanistan that has displaced many families, officials said Tuesday. The coalition said in a statement that its troops opened fire and called in airstrikes Monday after observing militants trying to set up an ambush. The coalition had been targeting a Taliban commander transporting weapons. In the northern town of Baghlan on Tuesday, a boy dropped an old mortar shell that he was trying to exchange for ice cream with a scrap metal dealer, said police officer Habib Rehman. The shell exploded, wounding 17 children and a man. Fourteen of the children were evacuated to a hospital in Baghlan. Three others were sent to the nearby town of Pul-e-Khumri, said Dr. Narmgui from the Baghlan hospital. Like many Afghans, Narmgui goes by one name. On Monday, a rocket hit a house in the eastern Kunar province, wounding two children and a man, said provincial deputy police chief Abdul Sabor Allayer. He blamed insurgents for the attack. At least 1,200 people - mostly militants - have died in insurgency-related violence in 2008, according to a tally compiled by The Associated Press of figures from Western and Afghan officials. The UN says more than 8,000 people, most of them militants, died in insurgency-related violence in 2007.