Afghanistan: U.S., British Troops Killed In Latest Surge Of Violence
U.S. and Afghan authorities say that at least 23 people have been killed in a surge of violence in Afghanistan over the past several days. The dead include Afghan civilians, suspected Taliban militants, and American and British soldiers. The violence comes as Afghanistan awaits the release of the final list of winners of the country's 18 September legislative elections.
Kabul, 30 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military says a U.S. paratrooper was killed in a gun battle yesterday in the volatile eastern province of Khost.
The U.S. military says the incident took place when the soldier's patrol came under fire from suspected Islamic guerrilla fighters. U.S. forces responded with small-arms fire and then called in air strikes. It was not immediately clear if any of the attackers were killed.
The British Defense Ministry released a statement saying that a British soldier was killed yesterday in northern Balkh province, when assailants attacked NATO-led security forces on patrol in the city of Mazar-e Sharif. Five soldiers were also wounded in the fighting.
Provincial security chief Imamudin told RFE/RL's Afghan Service security forces have detained a suspect in connection with the death of the British soldier. "His name is Abdul Satar, and he was caught while he was firing toward the British solider's vehicle. People witnessed the incident," Imamudin said.
Security officials say that Mazar-e Sharif is generally considered to be secure, because Taliban loyalists are not believed to be operating in the city. But Imamudin told RFE/RL the suspect was believed to have spent 10 years training in Islamic religious schools, or madrassahs, in neighboring Pakistan.
Elsewhere, violence claimed at least 23 lives in Afghanistan in recent days.
On 28 October, a group of armed men entered a mosque in Paktia province near the border with Pakistan. They dragged two men from the building and then shot them dead.
Also on 28 October, in Paktika province, the U.S. military said American forces attacked a group of suspected militants who were allegedly trying to plant a roadside bomb. The military says that one militant was killed and two were detained.
And on 27 October in Uruzgan province, the U.S. military says that 13 suspected Taliban insurgents and one Afghan soldier were killed in gun battles.
Meanwhile, Afghanistan's election commission today said that final results from last month's parliamentary elections are being delayed because of complaints of voting irregularities.
Commission official Grant Kippen said there are almost 500 complaints relating to fraud by candidates on voting day, or intimidation of voters. There are also allegations of ballot-box stuffing and fraud during the vote count.
Kippen said the complaints are being investigated, and that the delay will probably extend the deadline several more days.
The voting results were originally set to be announced on 19 October.
Human rights groups have expressed concern that some of the listed provisional winners in the election are former warlords, and that some may still be linked to armed organizations responsible for the continuing violence in the country.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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