Sunday, July 06, 2008

Gunmen kill Afghan MP in Kandahar

Assassinated Afghan MP Habibullah Jan
Habibullah Jan was a former military commander in Kandahar

An Afghan member of parliament has been assassinated in Kandahar province, officials have said.

Habibullah Jan was shot dead after visiting an Afghan army base in Zhari district, where Taleban militants have been active, the officials said.

Separately, in Helmand province, officials said 10 Taleban died when their own bomb exploded prematurely.

Elsewhere, US and Afghan officials gave conflicting reports of an air strike which locals said left 22 people dead.

Mr Jan was reported to be the 10th MP to be killed since parliament was elected in 2005, following the expulsion of the Taleban from power.

He was a military commander in the Zhari area, having fought against Soviet occupation in the 1980s, before being elected to parliament.

Police said 10 Taleban militants were killed late on Friday when a roadside bomb they were trying to plant, near the town of Musa Qala, exploded.

They said a militant commander, Mullah Jabar, was among the dead.

Roadside bombs have become an increasingly deadly weapon used by the militants against Afghan and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Doubts over victims

Meanwhile, Afghan officials said those killed in the US missile attack in eastern Nuristan province were civilians, while the US said only militants were killed.

The US military said in a statement that militants had fired mortars at troops from the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf).

"The militants were moving in two vehicles when coalition attack helicopters were used to destroy [them] killing the combatants," the US statement said.

It said there were no reports of civilian casualties, without giving any other details of militant casualties.

Afghan officials said civilians were in the two vehicles and that 22 people were killed, including a woman and a child.

"The civilians were evacuating the district as they were told by the US-led troops to do so because they wanted to launch an operation against the Taleban," a district chief in Nuristan province, Zia-ul Rahman, said.

There are about 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, most of them serving under Nato's Isaf command.

More than 8,000 people were estimated to have been killed in insurgent-related violence in Afghanistan last year - the most since the Taleban were toppled in 2001 - Associated Press news agency said.

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