10 Afghan police, two civilians dead in suicide attacks(Second lead)

March 16th, 2009 - 7:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, March 16 (DPA) Two suicide attacks in southern and western provinces of Afghanistan killed 10 policemen and two civilians, and wounded 30 others, officials said Monday.
A suicide bomber dressed in police uniform tried to enter the provincial police headquarters in Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, but was stopped by security guards, said Daoud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand’s governor.

The bomber scuffled with the guards before detonating his explosive-filled vest, he said.

“After a complete inspection of blast site and reports from hospitals, I can now say that nine policemen and two civilians were killed in today’s brutal attack,” Helmand’s provincial police chief Assadullah Sherzad said.

Sherzad said that 28 others including policemen and civilians were wounded in the attack and were taken to hospital. One of the wounded civilian was a woman, he added.

Separately, another suicide bomber attacked a police station in Delaram district of western Farah province Monday morning, Abdul Raouf Ahamdi, spokesman for the police forces in western Afghanistan, said.

“The bomber first tossed a hand grenade at the entrance of the station and killed a policeman, who was guarding the building and then entered the compound,” Ahmadi said, adding, “Police forces inside the compound killed the bomber before he could use the dead policeman’s weapon.”

The bomber’s explosive-packed vest detonated in the shooting, resulting in death of the bomber and injuries of two shopkeepers, who were standing nearby.

Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi took responsibility for the attack over phone from an undisclosed location.

In Helmand province, the attack happened at the entrance of the station when a group of counter-narcotics officers were leaving for a mission in the area.

“The target of the attack was the anti-narcotic police forces, and this is another example that shows the connection between the Taliban and drug mafia,” Ahmadi said.

Helmand, which is the largest opium-producing province in the country, is also the main hub for Taliban insurgents.

Afghan and international military officials have repeatedly accused the Taliban insurgents of protecting drug traffickers and benefiting from the illegal drug business in the country.

Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the world’s opium.

The Afghan government started an eradication campaign in the southern provinces at the beginning of the year, aiming to reduce poppy cultivation by 30 per cent.

Taliban militants rely heavily on use of suicide and roadside attacks as part of their campaign to topple the Western-backed Afghan government. The militants carried out more than 120 suicide attacks in 2008.

The recent bloodshed came a day after the NATO military officials in Afghanistan said that eight foreign soldiers were killed in separate attacks in the country over the weekend. A German soldier was also killed in a traffic accident Saturday.

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