Suicide hits, gunfights kill 19 in Afghanistan

KANDAHAR (AFP) - Triple suicide blasts and shootings killed 19 people including a local BBC reporter in an ongoing attack Thursday that was the deadliest to hit Afghanistan in more than a month. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the coordinated assault in Uruzgan province, that began with suicide bombings on official buildings in the local capital Trinkot and the base of a militia commander who provides security to Nato convoys heading towards the countrys besieged south. The fighting is still continuing, 19 people have been killed so far, said provincial governor spokesman Milad Modaser, warning that the toll may rise. Provincial health director Khan Agha Miakhail said 37 people had been wounded and that there were children among the dead. The BBC said that one of its Afghan reporters, Omid Khpalwak, was among those killed, apparently while he was inside radio and television offices next to the militia commanders compound. Khpalwak also worked for Afghan news agency Pajhwok and its regional editor Javid Hamim Kakar confirmed his death. His brother confirmed that he died and his body is in the Uruzgan central hospital, Kakar told AFP. The deadly attacks began at noon with one explosion just outside the gates of the deputy governors office, which is next to the main hospital for Trinkot. There were two blasts at the deputy governors office. One was detonated by a suicide bomber and the other was caused by an ANA (Afghan army) soldier shooting another suicide attacker, said army spokesman Hekmatullah Kuchi. The second suicide blast took place at Matiullah Khans base, who is not wounded, said Kuchi, referring to a well-known militia commander in the area whose duties include protecting Nato convoys along the highway that runs from Uruzgan to Kandahar city further south. Public health ministry spokesman Kargar Noorughli told AFP that a policeman and a child had been among those killed in the suicide blast at the deputy governors office. An eyewitness who asked not to be named told AFP that five explosions were heard in the area. I saw two myself from our roof. One near Matiullahs (place) and the other by the government compound. There was shooting in the streets, she said. The militia commanders base and the deputy governors offices are about one kilometre apart, said Kuchi. Earlier reports said the police chiefs office had been targeted. A spokesman for Natos International Security Assistance Force said it had sent reinforcements to the scene, including helicopters, to assist in quelling the assault. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP that the attackers were from the insurgent group, but denied killing the reporter, saying the police were responsible for his death. Seven of our volunteers have attacked the deputy governors office and Matiullahs base, said Ahmadi. Matiullah Khan commands around 2,000 fighters. His uncle Jan Mohammad Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan and a close ally of President Hamid Karzai, was killed in a gun attack on his Kabul home nearly two weeks ago, five days after the presidents half-brother was shot dead in Kandahar.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt