Saturday, September 13, 2008

'Contractors' Targetted in Afghanistan

US firm ambushed in Afghanistan, 23 killed

KABUL: At least 23 people were killed when Taliban ambushed a United States security firm convoy in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday. Provincial officials said it was the second attack on the firm in recent days. Provincial Police Chief Khalilullah Rahmani said 15 of the dead were Taliban killed in the fighting that broke out following the ambush.

Rahmani said US Protection and Investigations, a firm involved in escorting supplies for coalition forces, also suffered casualties, but gave no details. “The Taliban attacked the convoy with machineguns. Four vehicles were set on fire,” said a provincial official requesting anonymity. He said four Afghan guards and four civilians had been killed in the ambush that took place when the convoy was passing through Bakwa district in Farah province. Another convoy of the security firm had been attacked on Thursday in Kandahar city. Two people had been killed in the attack. In another incident, the US military said coalition forces had killed more than 10 Taliban and had detained two more during operations in eastern Afghanistan targeting the network of Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Two members of Haqqani’s team were picked up in Khost province, including one suspected of co-ordinating roadside attacks on coalition and Afghan forces, the US military said in a statement. Haqqani, who was backed by the United States during the war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, is considered close to Osama Bin Laden.

The military said US forces had also targeted a Taliban commander in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul, adding that 10 militants had been killed in the fighting. “Coalition forces were engaged with small-arms fire from multiple groups of armed militants as they entered a compound. The force returned fire, killing the militants,” said the statement.

Afghan police have arrested three men alleged to have provided international troops with ‘incorrect information’ that led to airstrikes said to have killed more than 90 civilians.

The three were on a list of people provided to President Hamid Karzai by locals who alleged they had misinformed troops ahead of the August 22 strikes, the head of police intelligence in the western province of Herat told reporters. “We arrested three people who were on the list. The operation is continuing to arrest the others,” said Mohammad Musa Rasouli. The interior ministry also announced the arrests of three men in a statement. Karzai visited Shindand district on September 4 and met with people who lost relatives in the strikes. He promised to arrest anyone whose ‘false information’ might have guided the attack, said an aide.

Afghan and UN rights investigations say more than 90 civilians had been killed in the strike, many of them children. The US military however, says that between five and seven civilians had been killed along with 30-35 Taliban, including an important commander. agencies


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