Five civilians among dozens killed in Afghanistan

August 11th, 2008 - 2:39 am ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban
Kabul, Aug 11 (DPA) Five civilians were killed in a roadside attack in southern Afghanistan, while an Afghan lawmaker and local villagers said Sunday that several other civilians were killed in a US-led airstrike against militants in a northeastern province. Meanwhile, a NATO-led Canadian soldier was also killed by Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan and up to two dozen militants were captured elsewhere in the country.

Five civilians were killed and three wounded in a roadside attack in Zherai district of southern Kandahar province Sunday morning, Besimullah Jan, police chief of the district said.

He said the dead civilians were all labourers returning by vehicle from a grape garden when the blast happened.

In another incident, Matiullah Safi, provincial police chief of Kapisa, said Afghan forces backed by coalition warplanes killed more than 10 militants in Tagap district of the province Saturday.

“There are reports of civilian casualties as well, but at this time we can’t confirm it,” he said, adding that a team was sent to the area to investigate the incident.

Local media quoted villagers saying about two dozen civilians were killed and wounded in the airstrike.

“At least 19 civilians including women and children were killed in this bombardment,” Haji Mohammad Igbal Safi, a member of parliament from Tagab district, told DPA.

Safi said he got the information from reliable sources in Kurghal village, where the bombing took place.

The Afghan defence ministry also confirmed the deaths of the militants in their operation, but did not say if civilians had been also killed or wounded.

Meanwhile, a Canadian soldier identified as Master Corporal Joshua Brian Roberts died of wounds sustained in combat in Zherai district of southern Kandahar province Saturday, the Canadian defence ministry said in a statement.

More than 2,500 Canadian soldiers are stationed in Kandahar province, purported to be the main headquarters of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The Canadian soldiers are part of more than 50,000 NATO-led troops from 40 countries.

Since their deployment in 2002, the Canadian forces lost 89 soldiers mostly in Kandahar, while a diplomat was also killed in the same province.

In another incident, the Afghan defence ministry said three Pakistani nationals were arrested with explosives and another 11 armed militants were captured in southern Kandahar province.

Mullah Bari Gul, the Taliban-appointed governor for southern Uruzgan province, and six other Taliban militants were captured by army forces in the province, the statement said.

It did not provide the exact dates for the incidents nor where the arrests of the foreign militants took place.

US-led coalition forces also said in a statement Sunday that they detained three militants during an operation in Urgun district of southeastern province of Paktika.

Due to the remoteness of the areas where Afghan and international forces are operating, it is difficult to verify independently the death tolls for the militants or the involvement of the detained individuals with the Taliban and Al Qaeda organisations.

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