25 killed as Taliban intensifies attacks in Afghanistan

June 14th, 2009 - 11:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, June 14 (DPA) Twenty-five people, including four civilians, were killed in the latest round of violence in Afghanistan this weekend, with rebels intensifying their attacks in an attempt to disrupt upcoming presidential elections, the country’s interior minister said Sunday.
Two civilians were killed in the latest series of roadside bomb attacks, which have become a common tactic for Taliban militants, in Gerishk district of southern Helmand province Sunday afternoon, Assadullah Sherzad, the provincial police chief said.

The bomb, which was hidden in a motorbike, was remotely detonated as a police ranger was passing by, he said. He added that six more civilians were wounded in the attack, but police forces were unharmed.

Police also found the bodies of a couple who worked as medical doctors in Bakwa district of western Farah province, said Mohammad Younus Rasouli, the deputy provincial governor.

Rasouli said the woman, an Iranian national, along with her Afghan husband were kidnapped Saturday night. Police found their bullet-riddled bodies Sunday morning. He blamed “enemies of Afghanistan”, a term often used by Afghan officials to describe the Taliban fighters, for the attack.

In the same western region, an Afghan army spokesman said that their forces, along with international troops, killed 20 militants in three separate clashes in Farah and neighbouring Badghis provinces on Saturday night.

Two Taliban local commanders were among those killed. There were also casualties among the combined forces, Abdul Basir Ghori said.

In south-eastern Paktika province, one police officer was killed and another wounded in a fight with Taliban militants in the province’s Bermal district Sunday, Hamidullah Zawak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said.

The recent bloodshed came as Afghan Interior Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar told a press conference Sunday that the Taliban militants had stepped up their attack against Afghan and international troops around the war-torn country.

Atmar said that the number of Taliban attacks was 40 percent higher last week than the previous week, while more than 250 people - including Afghan civilians, and security forces, but mostly insurgents - were killed.

The aim of the militants is to disrupt the Aug 20 presidential election, he said. He gave assurances that Afghan and NATO forces would soon be better prepared to provide security, with thousands more international forces expected to arrive in the country in coming weeks.

More than 20,000 additional US troops and around 5,000 soldiers from other NATO countries are expected to arrive in the country before the presidential poll, the second since the fall of Taliban regime in late 2001.

Currently more than 70,000 international soldiers from 42 nations are stationed in Afghanistan.

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