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5 Afghan children among 9 dead in Kandahar blasts

President Hamid Karzai condemned the "enemies of Afghanistan" on Wednesday after roadside bombs killed nine people, including five children, as insurgents fight intensified NATO-led operations in the south.

world Updated: Oct 06, 2010 20:06 IST
AP

President Hamid Karzai condemned the "enemies of Afghanistan" on Wednesday after roadside bombs killed nine people, including five children, as insurgents fight intensified NATO-led operations in the south.

Meanwhile, NATO and Afghan forces reported killing 22 militants including two "shadow" governors of northern provinces. In the roadside bombings Tuesday night in Kandahar city, the Interior Ministry said nine people were killed and 30 injured, including many police officers. The blasts targeted a police vehicle and ripped through an intersection _ a day after four officers died in coordinated bombings that were also aimed at police. Karzai strongly condemned the latest attack.

Control of Kandahar, the Taliban movement's birthplace, is seen as key to reversing Taliban momentum in the war. Afghan and NATO forces are engaged in a major operation there, dubbed Dragon Strike. In response, Taliban have intensified a campaign targeting police and local officials.

On Monday, Noor Ahman, deputy mayor in Kandahar, was also killed in an insurgent attack, and later in the day, Habibullah Aghonzada, a former district chief in Arghistan, was gunned down by assailants as he prayed at a packed mosque.

NATO described the two as "dedicated public servants who sought to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen." The Taliban said Tuesday the NATO-led operation was doomed to fail.

"America is operating in the districts of Kandahar, but the result will be that they will walk out with blood-filled, empty hands," Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef said. "They could not achieve victory in nearly a decade ... this shows they never will."

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the operation was scattering insurgents from the restive region. "Dragon Strike is continuing to put the pressure on these guys. Those who have remained and dug in and who are determined to fight are feeling enormous pressure ... The Taliban is clearly feeling it."

The NATO coalition is also fighting an uphill battle to win the allegiance of people in Kandahar.

"When only the Taliban were ruling our land there was peace and tranquility. Since the Americans have set foot on our land, we don't have work and our health is no better," said Naseebullah Ghamjam, a 38-year-old laborer. "All we have seen is that Americans have constructed exceptionally massive compounds for themselves." "We hear that millions and billions of dollars are coming in our country, but where does all of the money go?" he asked. "I believe these years of war and loss of innocent lives makes it obvious that war can never bring in peace. We should start looking for alternatives now."

In southwestern Nimroz province, meanwhile, police said they intercepted a shipping container full of grenades and gunpowder, presumably destined for insurgent forces.

The 40-foot-long container 1,339 boxes filled with grenades, and 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of gunpowder, along with fuses and electrical cords, according to Mohammad Musa Rasouli, the deputy provincial police chief.

The weapons appeared to have been made in China and were scheduled to ship to a private company in Afghanistan, Rasouli said, though he declined to give the name of the receiving company. One suspect has been arrested and others from the company are being investigated, he said.

In other violence, a powerful roadside bomb destroyed a civilian vehicle Wednesday, killing three fruit farmers in southeastern Afghanistan. The blast occurred as the farmers were taking their produce to market, said Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, spokesman for Zabul province's governor.

First Published: Oct 06, 2010 20:04 IST