District governor shot dead in southern Afghanistan

May 31st, 2008 - 6:33 pm ICT by admin  

Kandahar, May 31 (DPA) A district governor and his bodyguard were shot dead in southern Afghanistan, while the US military said they killed several Taliban militants as Afghan forces retook control of a town in the southern region, officials said Saturday. An Afghan district governor for Mezan district in southern Zabul and his bodyguard were killed by unknown gunmen in Qalat, the provincial capital Friday night, police official Abdul Matin said.

He said Mohammad Younus, the district governor, was shot dead in front of his house, adding that they had started a search operation to track down the assailants.

Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, talking from a secret location by telephone, told DPA that Taliban fighters killed the district administrative chief.

Meanwhile, Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed several insurgents in the Nahr-e-Saraj district in southern Helmand province Thursday, the US military said in a statement.

The combined force reconnaissance patrol came under fire from Taliban insurgents in the district, the statement said, adding that the joint forces returned fire with small arms fire and used “precision air strikes to eliminate confirmed enemy positions”.

No Afghan or coalition troops, or civilians were killed during the engagement, the statement said.

In another development, Afghan forces backed up by coalition forces retook control of Shaidan district in southern Ghazni province after the Taliban briefly overran the district centre Thursday, Khan Mohammad Mujahid, provincial police chief, said.

He said that the Afghan forces entered the district centre Friday evening and took control of the town. Mujahid said the Taliban fighters fled the town after burning the governmental buildings and vehicles.

Taliban militants claimed Friday that their fighters overran the district and arrested the district chief and eight other police officers.

Mujahid earlier said that the district governor, who had links with the Taliban insurgents, had handed over control of the district to the militants.

Mujahid did not have any information regarding the whereabouts of the district officials. However, Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, confirmed that they left the town, saying, “We burned the district headquarters and governmental vehicles, so we did not need to stay there any longer.”

He also claimed that they had taken the arrested officials along with themselves to an unknown location.

Taliban militants overran several districts in southern Afghanistan last year, but lost control of most of them in NATO-led operations in the region.

Taliban militants claimed that they held sway in at least five districts in the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand earlier this year.

Taliban-led violence is on the rise in Afghanistan despite the presence of around 70,000 international troops and more than 160,000 members of the Afghan security forces.

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