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Rebels kill tribal chief in Afghan

Chieftain Haji Lala and two others were killed when gunmen ambushed their vehicle.

india Updated: May 14, 2006 13:20 IST

Suspected Taliban rebels shot dead a key Afghan tribal chief, his son and his bodyguard in the insurgency-hit country's restive south, officials said on Friday.

Chieftain Haji Lala and the other two were killed when gunmen ambushed their vehicle in troubled Helmand province on Thursday, provincial spokesman Moheedin Khan said.

The attack occurred in Grishk district, where authorities on Wednesday found the beheaded body of a policeman kidnapped and killed a day earlier, allegedly by the Taliban.

"They were attacked by Taliban. Lala, his son and a bodyguard were killed in the attack," Khan said.

Lala was an influential tribal chief and was the cousin of parliamentarian and former Helmand governor Sher Mohammad Akhundzada.

The official blamed the attack on the "enemies of Afghanistan" a term Afghan officials use to refer to remnants of the Taliban regime, which was ousted from power by a US-led invasion in late 2001.

Helmand, bordering Pakistan, is one of the most insurgency-hit regions in southern Afghanistan, where the rebels carry out near-daily attacks on government and foreign troops.

Around 3,300 British soldiers under a NATO-led peacekeeping mission are about to deploy in the lawless province, also a key drug-producing area. An advance guard has already arrived.

First Published: May 14, 2006 13:20 IST