Taliban rebels shot dead eight men employed at a US base in eastern Afghanistan and a suicide bomber threw himself at an Afghan army convoy yesterday, killing a soldier, officials said.
The killings were the latest in a campaign of attacks by the Islamist extremists who target Afghan and foreign soldiers, as well as civilians who work for them in a spiraling insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
A group of 10 workers had left the US military base in the eastern province of Kunar in a minibus late on Thursday when they were stopped by gunmen, provincial police chief Abduljalal Jalal told reporters.
"Eight laborers were brutally shot and killed by armed men in Korangal area. They were working at a US base and were going home for Eid holidays," Jalal said.
Two laborers escaped.
Eid al-Fitr, Islam's biggest festival, takes place at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. It is due next week, depending on sightings of the moon, but many people begin their holidays early.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Jalal blamed extremist Taliban guerrillas.
The Taliban were also suspected to have been behind a suicide bombing near the eastern city of Khost yesterday in which a soldier was killed and 10 others were hurt.
The attacker waited for an Afghan army convoy that had to slow down at a speed bump and then detonated explosives strapped to his body, the provincial police chief General Mohammad Ayob said.
"One soldier was martyred and another seven were wounded in the suicide attack," army general Mohammad Akram Sami said.