Roadside bomb kills 5 Afghan workers

AP News
Posted: Apr 12, 2011 11:56 AM
Roadside bomb kills 5 Afghan workers

A roadside bomb on Tuesday killed five construction workers in eastern Afghanistan who were in a car driving near the Pakistani border, an Afghan official said.

Earlier, a similar bomb killed two Afghan police officers as they were destroying opium poppies in the southern province of Kandahar, while three children died from an insurgent grenade tossed during a NATO operation in the north.

Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Nangahar province, said the five Afghan men were all in a car owned by a local construction company. He said the incident occurred just north of Jalalabad, the provincial capital. There have been numerous insurgent attacks in the area.

NATO said in a statement that during the operation another four women and children were wounded along with five Afghan and NATO troops in the fighting in northern Faryab province.

It said the deaths occurred when an insurgent lobbed a hand grenade into a courtyard of a compound that was being raided.

The women and children had been placed there by coalition forces for their safety. The statement added that "several" insurgents were also killed. There was no way to independently verify the account.

The European Union also said someone fired a high-velocity bullet at the office of its special representative to Afghanistan in Kabul. The bullet hit the armored office window of Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas, a former Lithuanian Foreign Minister, but no one was hurt.

The two police officers who died Tuesday were part of a team eradicating opium poppies in Kandahar's Zhari district, according to a police statement. Two other officers were wounded in the blast.

The spring poppy harvest is slowly coming to full bloom across southern Afghanistan. Police said that Afghan security forces have so far eradicated almost 2,900 acres (1,200 hectares).

Opium poppies are the south's biggest cash crop, often smuggled to Pakistan's lawless tribal areas where the sap from the plants is refined into heroin for sale in Western markets and Russia. Funds are used to fuel the Taliban and the fighting season is expected to get fully under way once the crop is harvested.

The Afghan Intelligence Agency also announced that a Pakistani man has been arrested on suspicion of leading a botched assault on a NATO base last week that left seven insurgents dead.

A spokesman for the agency, Lutfullah Mashal, said the 26-year-old man named Zarmalok was from the Pakistani city of Peshawar. It is common in both countries for people to go by a single name.

Mashal said the man sneaked into Afghanistan a day before the April 5 attack on NATO's base in the eastern city of Jalalabad. Together with another 11 men he tried to storm the base firing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Seven of the attackers were killed. There were no coalition casualties.

The intelligence agency also announced the arrest of a Taliban operative in Helmand who is believed to be responsible for a number of beheadings in the southwestern province. Identified as Mullah Juma, the man was part of a five-member Taliban judicial committee that regularly put on trial Afghans working for the government, the army or coalition forces.

Many were then beheaded, Mashal said. He did not say how many people he was suspected of killing.


Associated Press Writers Patrick Quinn in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.