http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3885573/ Taliban official apologizes for bomb mistake 16 killed in Kandahar blast, including many children Updated: 2:09 p.m. ET Jan. 07, 2004 KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A military commander of Afghanistans ousted Taliban militia apologized on Wednesday for a bomb attack in the southern city of Kandahar that killed 16 people, including many children, calling it a botched attempt to target U.S. troops. The fundamentalist Islamic group initially denied involvement in Tuesdays explosion near a military compound as children were passing on their way home from school. The blast, from a bomb hidden in an apple cart, came just two days after a new constitution was adopted in Kabul, which Afghans hope will usher in a period of peace and stability after a quarter of a century of bloodshed. It was a mistake by our mujahideen (holy warriors), senior Taliban commander Mullah Sabir Momin said by satellite telephone. A small mistake We wanted to target the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) office in the city, but because of a small mistake, this plan failed, he told Reuters. PRTs are civilian-military groups, mostly under the umbrella of U.S.-led forces in the country, deployed across Afghanistan to improve security and support reconstruction efforts. The PRT in Kandahar is under U.S. command. Vital assistance missions have been suspended across as much as a third of the country due to deteriorating security, with much of the violence blamed on the Taliban and its allies. Momin said U.S. and allied forces regularly passed along the route where the explosion occurred. Officials in Kandahar said on Wednesday that the death toll had risen to 16, and at least eight children were among those killed. Another 50 people were wounded. One person was arrested by Afghan authorities shortly after the blast, but Momin said he did not know the individual and claimed that Taliban guerrillas had got away on motorcycles. He urged residents of the dusty, bleak former Taliban stronghold to stay away from buildings belonging to U.S. or Afghan forces, adding that they would soon be attacked. A statement from the U.S. military released late on Tuesday pinned the blame for the atrocity firmly on the Taliban. This criminal attack reminds us that there are still elements of the former brutal and repressive regime committed to reversing the successes of the Afghan people, it said. On Wednesday, U.S. forces scoured a town near the Pakistani border overnight for suspects in the bombing, a spokesman said. The U.S. search operation was focused on Spin Boldak, a town between Kandahar and the Pakistani frontier, Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty told the AP in an e-mail. "In Spin Boldak last night, Coalition forces were pursuing suspects thought to be involved in Tuesday's attack on the civilians of Kandahar," he wrote. Hilferty gave no further details, and it was unclear if the operation was still going on. There are 12,000 U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan hunting Islamic militants from the Taliban and al-Qaida. They have failed to prevent a wave of attacks and fighting that has claimed over 400 lives since early August, mainly in the southern and eastern portions of the country.