Dozens killed in new Afghan violence
AFP - Sunday, November 23
KABUL (AFP) - - Bomb blasts and military operations against insurgents killed 31 people in Afghanistan, including a French soldier who stepped on a mine on Saturday and eight wedding-goers, authorities said.
Another 62 people, including the groom, were wounded when two or three grenades were thrown into the men's section of the wedding in the northern province of Parwan late Friday, officials said.
"It is not clear whether this was a criminal act, or due to family or internal problems, or if it was a terrorist attack," interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said in Kabul.
Men and women are kept apart at most weddings in conservative Afghanistan.
The French trooper was killed and another wounded when a mine engulfed them about 10 kilometres (six miles) south of Kabul, the French military said.
The two were de-mining specialists making their way towards a firing range, an official said.
Separately a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in the eastern town of Khost on Saturday, killing a 15-year-old boy and a man passing-by, provincial intelligence chief Colonel Mohammed Yaqob told AFP.
Fifteen other people were wounded, Yaqob said.
There was no claim of responsibility but Khost, which borders Pakistan, sees regular attacks linked to an insurgency led by the hardline Taliban who were driven from government in a US-led invasion in 2001.
Another bomb blew up a police vehicle in the central province of Ghazni and killed three policemen and wounded two, provincial government spokesman Ismail Jahangir said.
Jahangir also reported that authorities had found the body of a man shot dead by the Taliban after being accused of spying for the government and its allies in the international military.
However, "this person had no cooperation with the government and foreign forces and was a civilian," he told AFP.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the man was killed Friday after being interrogated by the militia's leadership.
Taliban also said they had killed a district governor in the border province of Kunar whose bullet-riddled body was also found on Saturday.
The governor of Marawara district, Ghais Haqmal, had been abducted by Taliban three months ago and the militants had demanded the release of 50 of their jailed comrades in exchange for his life, authorities said.
The demand could not be met, "so they killed the district governor and today is his funeral," Kunar government spokesman Adris Gharwal told AFP.
The US-led military supporting the Afghan government announced meanwhile that troops had killed 14 insurgents in operations in the southern provinces of Helmand and Farah in the past two days.
Troops had also shot and killed a civilian in Khost on Friday when the vehicle he was in came too close to a patrol and ignored warnings to stay away, the coalition said in a statement, expressing regret.
Soldiers are wary of suicide attacks and there have been several incidents in which civilians have been killed for approaching troops.
Afghanistan's insurgency has grown steadily since the 1996-2001 Taliban regime was removed from government in a US-led invasion after it failed to hand over its allies in the Al-Qaeda leadership.
Insurgent attacks have increased while the number of international and Afghan troops has grown with the focus of the US-led "war on terror" shifting to the Afghan-Pakistan border belt from Iraq.
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