Militants Kill Eight Policemen in Northern Afghanistan

August 26, 2010 - 4:36 AM
The militants apparently hoped to steal the policemen's weapons, but were beaten back before they could do so, police said.
Kabul, Afghanistan (AP) - Insurgents killed eight Afghan policemen in a raid Thursday on a checkpoint outside the northern city of Kunduz, the provincial police chief said.
 
Abdul Raziq Yaqoubi said police suspected the raid was carried out by militants from Russia's restive Chechnya region who are active in the surrounding province, also called Kunduz.
 
More than 10 militants took part in the attack, two or three of whom were believed to have been wounded when the police fought back, Yaqoubi said.
 
The militants apparently hoped to steal the policemen's weapons, but were beaten back before they could do so, he said.
 
Kunduz has seen an increasing number of attacks on Afghan and foreign coalition forces who rely on a supply line running south through the province from neighboring Tajikistan. Foreign fighters from Chechnya, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf are smuggled into the area over the rugged mountainous border with Pakistan to the east.
 
Also Thursday, a candidate in the country's parliamentary elections said 10 of her campaign workers were kidnapped while traveling in the western province of Herat.
 
Fawzya Galani said she lost contact with the group at about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Villagers told her armed men had stopped the group and driven off in their two vehicles, Galani said.
 
No one claimed responsibility and local district chief Nisar Ahmad Popal said it wasn't clear whether the kidnappers were political rivals or members of the Taliban, which is seeking to sabotage the Sept. 18 elections for 249 seats in the lower house of parliament.
 
"We are trying to find them and our efforts are continuing," Popal said.
 
NATO has been stepping up operations ahead of the elections, and said Thursday it had detained several insurgents in Khost province along the Pakistan border while pursuing senior members of the Haqqani network, an Islamist militant group with deep links to al-Qaida.
 
The alliance said Afghan and coalition forces captured two Haqqani and several Taliban leaders during 35 separate operations this week.
 
Investigations, meanwhile, continued into an attack at a coalition base in the northwestern province of Badghis in which two Spanish police trainers and their Iranian-born Spanish translator were killed.
 
Spain's Interior Ministry said the officers' driver opened fire on the men during a training exercise Wednesday. The driver was killed shortly afterward in a hail of gunfire.
 
Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba described the incident as a "terrorist attack."
 
"I can't say if the Taliban were behind this or not," he told reporters in Madrid. "But what is clear is that it was a premeditated attack. The person who opened fire knew exactly what he was doing."
 
Perez Rubalcaba said the assailant had worked with the Spanish Civil Guard, a paramilitary force, since the unit arrived in Afghanistan five months ago to train Afghan police.
 
After word of the shooting spread, several hundred angry men gathered outside the walls of the Spanish compound, shouting "Allahu Akbar," or "God is Great," hurling stones and ripping down fences around the installation. At least one vehicle was torched and gunshots were fired, although it was unclear who was shooting.
 
Provincial health director Abdul Aziz Tariq said 25 people were wounded in the protest, most of them by bullets, with two in critical condition.
 
The protest underscored the brewing resentment among many Afghans over the presence of foreigners on their soil, further encouraged by the insurgents as a way of turning the population against the national government in Kabul.
 
NATO also reported that three Afghan civilians were killed Wednesday by a homemade bomb in southern Kandahar province's Arghandab district, a Taliban stronghold that has had a growing coalition presence.
 
Two Taliban commanders were also killed Wednesday in fighting with a joint Afghan-Taliban force in neighboring Uruzgan province, along with 12 regular insurgent fighters, the Afghan National Police reported. Four insurgents were captured in the operation, the police said.
 
One Taliban fighter and one policeman also died in a shootout in Helmand province to the west, it said.
 
No coalition casualties were reported in the actions.
 
------
 
Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.