Taliban attacks kill 12 in southern Afghanistan: officials

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) — Taliban fighters killed 12 people, including a provincial reconciliation chief and five civilians, in separate attacks in insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.

Rebels captured the head of the reconciliation mission in the troubled province of Zabul, Abdul Qayoum Mujadeddi, as he was travelling with a driver and a bodyguard early Sunday, a provincial police spokesman told AFP.

“He was taken alive and then later in the day he was found dead,” said the spokesman, Gulab Shah Alikhail.

“We have launched a search operation for his driver and bodyguard who were taken by Taliban.”

An effort to persuade fighters loyal to the extremist Taliban regime driven from power in late 2001 to side with the new government has been under way for around three years.

Officials say around 2,000 men have signed up. A Taliban-led insurgency is however gaining pace with last year seeing some of its deadliest attacks.

Also Sunday, a mob of rebel fighters ambushed a convoy taking construction materials to a base for NATO military forces in Helmand province, a police officer said.

They killed four drivers and two security guards and torched six of the trucks, said the officer, who gave his name only as Koka.

Three other security guards were wounded and three trucks damaged, he said.

A man claiming to be Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said the attack was carried out by men from his group.

Separately a roadside bomb thought to be targeting Afghan and NATO troops killed five civilians including a child in Kandahar province on Saturday, a district chief said.

“The Taliban planted this mine for NATO and Afghan forces but it exploded on a civilian car,” Panjwayi district chief Haji Shah Baran told AFP. “One woman, one child, three men were killed,” he said.

While the main targets of the Taliban’s campaign of violence are often soldiers, including those serving in NATO’s nearly 40,000-strong force, most of the victims are civilians.

Nearly 2,000 civilians were killed in violence last year, about half in insurgent attacks, a non-government organisation security group said Friday.

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