A land mine explosion in Afghanistan claimed the lives of 9 children Saturday as they walked to school, according to police.

Spokesman Khalil Asir said the mine detonated in the northeastern province of Takhar, killing the children, who were nine to 12 years old.   

Asir said the Taliban planted anti-personnel mines to clear the area but, “Unfortunately, today, one of those mines exploded and killed nine primary school students.”

The Taliban, which controls the area and is fighting to oust U.S.-backed foreign troops, was not immediately available for comment.

Saturday’s deaths are the latest in a growing number of civilian casualties this year, despite U.S.-Taliban talks to reach a peace agreement.

The U.N. said last month a record 4,313 civilians were killed or injured between July and September, a more than 40 percent increase from the same period last year.

Of that number, more than 1,000 were fatalities — making the period the most deadly since the U.N. began compiling figures in 2009.