Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Taliban step up attacks, journalist missing

AFTER MEDUSA A month after NATO inflicted severe damage on the Taliban rebels, attacks launched from across the border in Pakistan were on the rise

AFP , KABUL

A series of Taliban-linked attacks across Afghanistan yesterday left seven people dead, including a provincial councillor who was shot dead on his way to work in the southern city of Kandahar.

There were also fears for an Italian photojournalist who had been out of contact for several days, with media reports saying men claiming to be Taliban had captured him in Helmand Province on allegations he was a spy.

Unknown gunmen opened fire on councillor Mohammad Younis Hussaini after he left his home and was headed for the office, a doctor at a Kandahar hospital said.

Three of his companions were hurt in the attack, said Mohammad Tahir, a doctor at Mirwais hospital where the wounded were being treated.

It was not clear who carried out the shooting but the extremist Taliban movement has killed several government officials as part of its spiralling insurgency.

The head of the provincial women's ministry was assassinated in a similar attack last month.

In the western city of Herat, a bomb exploded near a convoy of men believed to be US nationals who trained police.

"Two of our countrymen were martyred and another wounded. It was a roadside bomb exploded by the enemies of Afghanistan," provincial police commander Mohammad Ayoob Salangi told reporters.

Police in the eastern province of Khost reported that hundreds of rebels attacked a police checkpost near the border with Pakistan.

"The fighting lasted from midnight to three in the morning. Three policemen were killed and one injured," a border police commander said.

The Taliban left behind the body of one of their dead, he said, alleging the fighters had crossed over from Pakistan.

Khost is opposite a tribal area of Pakistan that was part of a government peace deal with pro-Taliban militants last month.

Some analysts in Afghanistan have warned of a rise in crossborder attacks in the province which has witnessed several suicide blasts in the past weeks.

In southern Kandahar Province, meanwhile, two Canadian soldiers were in recovery after being wounded in an intense battle that killed two of their colleagues, the Canadian military said.

Saturday's attack on a Canadian patrol was in the Pashmul area of Kandahar Province which fell under last month's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)-led Operation Medusa.

NATO-led ISAF said the roughly two-week operation dealt battle-hardened Taliban their biggest defeat since the movement was driven from power, leaving hundreds dead and forcing others to flee. But Taliban attacks have been stepping up again.

Canadian troops were attacked by rocket propelled grenades and small arms.

"Other Canadian units quickly responded to the attack and became involved in a three-hour battle with insurgents" with support from ISAF helicopters, the Canadian defence ministry said.

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