Over 40 killed in Afghan violence in one day

Over 40 killed in Afghan violence in one dayKabul, Aug 27 : Forty-three people, including a dozen civilians, have been killed in Afghan violence over the last 24 hours, authorities said Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, six civilians were found dead in eastern province of Paktia bordering Pakistan, Xinhua reported.

"The bodies of six civilians were found along a road in Zurmat district early Tuesday morning. The killing took place in the district, located just south of provincial capital Gardez city, 100 km south of national capital Kabul," a provincial government spokesman Rohullah Samon told Xinhua, adding details would be released to the media after an ongoing investigation.

Witnesses said the victims were employees of a local construction company in charge of building a road in the area.

In addition, six government employees were shot dead in relatively peaceful Herat province overnight.

"The dead bodies of six employees of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development were found early Tuesday morning in Gulran district where they were kidnapped Sunday. All of them were shot dead," head of provincial criminal investigation department Israeel Khan told Xinhua.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the incident.

According to Khan, the victims were working for a ministry's development project as part of the National Solidarity Programme.

Blaming Taliban for the shooting, Khan said that the killed included four engineers and two staff members of the project.

Separately, 10 militants and one policeman were killed early Tuesday morning when the militants launched an attack in Joy-e-Ganj area of Bala Murghab district of neighbouring Badghis province.

"Militants numbered several hundred raided the Afghan Border Police (ABP) checkpoints in areas near the border with Turkmenistan. The clash is going on up to now later Tuesday," the provincial governor Ahmadullah Ahmadzai told Xinhua.

He said 10 militants, including a local insurgents' leader named Mullah Abdullah, were killed in the clash in the district, which is located in northern part of the provincial capital Qala-e- Naw, 555 km northwest of Afghan capital Kabul.

One policeman was also kidnapped by the militants. General Taj Mohammad, the commander of army corps 207 in neighbouring Herat province, told Xinhua that an army unit was dispatched to the area to reinforce the police forces there.

Witnesses said that more than 500 militants were involved in the attack, saying the Taliban also took control of two checkpoints there.

This is the second attack by militants in Bala Murghab over the past one week.

In eastern Kunar province, militants beheaded an off-duty policeman along a main road linking the province with the neighbouring Nuristan province over night. The mountainous Nuristan and Kunar are notorious as a Taliban hotbed.

The Taliban has intensified attacks on Afghan and about 98,000 NATO-led troops stationed in the country since they launched the annual rebel offensive in April. They urged civilians to stay away from military compounds and convoys regarded as targets by the militants besides warning them against supporting the government and foreign troops.

At the same time, the Afghan army and police continue to press against the militants by carrying clean-up operations across the country.

"The Afghan National Police (ANP) carried out several clean-up operations in close cooperation with army, National Security Directorate (NDS) and coalition forces in Kunduz, Kapisa, Balkh, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Wardak provinces. As a result 27 armed Taliban were killed and 11 others were wounded," the ministry said in a statement providing daily operational updates earlier on the day.

"Also, during these operations, the ANP discovered and confiscated some amount of light and heavy rounds (of) ammunition," it noted.

The ANP found and defused eight different types of landmines placed by Taliban in Laghman, Takhar, Kandahar, Uruzgan and Herat provinces over the same period of time, it added.

The Taliban, which has been waging an insurgency of more than one decade, has yet to make comments.

A total of 1,319 civilians were killed and 2,533 injured in conflict-related violence in the first half of this year, according to a UN report released in Kabul in July.

The report attributed 74 percent of the civilian deaths to attacks by Taliban insurgents and other armed groups.(IANS)


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