Sun, Sep 25, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Rocket attacks hit Afghanistan

INSTABILITY Afghan poll workers are trying to finish counting ballots from the recent election, while several blasts have occurred nearby and throughout the country


Unknown attackers fired four rockets on a rural suburb of the Afghan capital Kabul but there were no casualties, the interior ministry said yesterday.

The rockets landed in a village which is not far from a compound where electoral workers have been counting the ballots of last weekend's parliamentary elections, interior ministry spokesman M. Yousuf Stanizai said.

"Last [Friday] night four rockets were fired which landed in Deh Sabz village -- there were no casualties," Stanizai said.

He ruled out the ballot counting center in Pul-i-Charkhi district, east of Kabul, as the target of the attack.

Stanizai did not blame the attack on any particular group but said: "Obviously it was the work of the enemies of Afghanistan's peace and stability."

Similar attacks have been blamed on the remnants of the Taliban whose ultra-conservative regime was ousted by a US invasion in late 2001 since when the militia has continued to attack government targets.

Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years last weekend without any major violence despite Taliban threats to disrupt the vote.

A NATO-led peacekeeping force of some 10,000 soldiers is deployed in Kabul and some northern cities to maintain security. The peacekeepers were not aware of the rocket attack.

A separate 20,000-strong coalition force under the leadership of the US is hunting remnants of the Taliban mainly in country's south and east.

Meanwhile, ten militants and an Afghan soldier were killed in an operation to arrest a Taliban commander, and two US soldiers were wounded in a bomb attack in Afghanistan's south, officials said on Friday.

The two American troops were injured west of Kandahar city in a bomb attack that sparked a three-hour long gun battle Friday evening.

"Two soldiers were injured and both were evacuated to Kandahar for treatment and are now in a stable condition," said US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jerry O'Hara. Three enemy troops were detained, he said.

A day earlier, in neighboring Uruzgan province, an Afghan soldier from the US-led coalition was wounded, the US military said.

Coalition and Afghan troops came under attack from up to 20 enemy fighters who were firing small arms, heavy machine guns, mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, the US military said in a statement.

"Coalition and US close air support and US attack helicopters arrived at the scene, blasting enemy positions, killing 10 enemy combatants," it said.

The Uruzgan governor, Jan Mohammed Khan, told reporters the operation was launched after a tip-off that a man considered a military chief of the Taliban, named Dadullah, was hiding in the province's Charchino district.

"We had reports that Dadullah was hiding in the area, and we launched an operation, but we faced Taliban resistance and the fighting broke out," he said. "There might have been over 10 Taliban killed, but we have at least four bodies with us."

Purported Taliban spokesman Abdul Latif Hakimi said six of its fighters were killed. He also claimed that eight American and 10 Afghan soldiers were killed, but this was not confirmed by the US military.

Australia's defense department said earlier Friday that an Australian special forces soldier was wounded in an operation in Afghanistan in which an Afghan soldier was killed.

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