Sunday, September 13, 2009

[wvns] Wave of Attacks Engulfs Afghanistan

Wave of Attacks Engulfs Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — Five Americans were killed on Saturday amid a wave of bombings, ambushes and killings that swept across Afghanistan and seemed to emphasize the ability of the Taliban and other insurgents to carry out attacks in most parts of the country.

At least 39 Afghan civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were also killed in attacks that struck the north, the south and the east on Friday and Saturday, Afghan officials said.

Three American service members were killed in western Afghanistan when they were attacked with a roadside bomb and then came under small-arms fire, said Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, a press officer for the United States military command in Kabul.

He said two more American service members were killed in eastern Afghanistan, also by a roadside bomb. The military will not disclose the branch of service of the five who died or the provinces where the attacks took place until next of kin have been notified, he said.

The largest death toll in an attack came from a roadside bombing in Oruzgan Province on Friday afternoon that killed 14 people in a minivan, including four women and three children, Afghan officials said. The police chief of Oruzgan, Juma Gul Himat, said in a phone interview that the high-powered explosive had been planted by the Taliban.

But the most alarming attack came in the increasingly volatile northern province of Kunduz, where some of the police in the northern district of Emam Sahib have strong links to the insurgency.

Early Saturday morning, one of the district policemen poisoned the eight other police officers assigned to a guard post about 12 miles south of the district's government center, said the Emam Sahib district police chief, Juma Khan Baber.

The turncoat officer killed his commander on the spot, and then called his true comrades: the local Taliban. The militants entered the guard post and dragged away the seven other policemen, who were beheaded or shot, the district chief said. Then the Taliban burned down the guard shack.

Chief Juma Khan blamed the Taliban's "shadow" district chief in the region, Mullah Naimatullah, for the attack. Across large parts of the country, the Taliban operate shadow governments, complete with appointed judicial and security officials, that in many places are more influential that the official government and security forces.

In a separate episode in northeast Kunduz, NATO said a raid conducted with Afghan forces early on Saturday left "a number of militants" armed with machine guns and rifles dead after they fired on the raiding party.

In Kandahar, the large southern city that spawned the Taliban movement, a trio of suicide bombers tried to destroy the city's intelligence offices on Saturday afternoon. One blew himself up at the front gate, and the two others opened fire and then their explosives ignited before they could enter the building, said Zulmay Ayoubi, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor.

The bombers killed a 7-year-old girl and a security guard, he said. Dr. Mohammed Dawoud Farhad, the director of Mirwais Hospital, said three other security guards were treated for wounds from the attack.
Six civilians were also killed in Kandahar by roadside bombings, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

Four police officers were killed in Nangarhar Province late Friday when insurgents attacked a checkpoint, news agencies reported. But a police spokesman in Nangarhar said he was unaware of the attack.
In Kunar Province, five security guards were killed and 10 others wounded Saturday morning when militants ambushed a truck carrying guards hired to protect workers building a road in the Manogay district, said Idris Gharwal, the spokesman for the provincial governor.

In Kabul, the Afghan Independent Election Commission said President Hamid Karzai was leading with 54.3 percent of the vote from the Aug. 20 election, with votes from 92.8 percent of polling stations counted, according to a preliminary tally.

While that percentage would be enough to secure his re-election without a runoff, the election was marred by rampant fraud, and it remains to be seen how many votes will be taken away from Mr. Karzai's total during a review of voting irregularities by the country's United Nations-backed Electoral Complaints Commission. If Mr. Karzai's vote total fell below 50 percent, he would face his most popular challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister, in a runoff.

Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.



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