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AFGHANISTAN: Attack on road construction team kills six

Kabul, 1 September 2003 (IRIN) - The US based construction and engineering company Louis Berger Group (LBG) said that four people were killed and another four kidnapped when unidentified assailants attacked one of the company's guest houses on the Kabul-Kandahar road, about 100 km north of Kandahar on Monday.

"At approximately 0100 on Monday, an unknown number of invaders attacked a hilltop security position of the Ministry of Interior located on the Kabul-Kandahar highway, the attackers killed four men, wounded four and possibly kidnapped four more people," Mike Staples, a public relations and report manager for LBG told IRIN in the capital Kabul.

"The guest house was occupied by the contractor's personnel and local Afghans and it is where equipment is parked overnight," Staples said, adding that the attackers shot up a water truck, a dirt truck and a grader belonging to an Indian contractor.

At the same time, one of the vehicles from LBG's security firm was shot at with a rocket while travelling in the same area "The vehicle had a tyre shot out when the occupants left the vehicle, two were killed and one escaped when the vehicle was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) totally destroying it," the public relations manager added.

A security official in the southern city of Kandahar who declined to be named, told IRIN that the Indian company had stopped construction on the highway following the attack. LBG is providing engineering, design, construction management and other services to implement the ambitious US funded US $250 million 482 km road
project from Kabul to Kandahar. LBG could not confirm the nationalities of those killed.

The vital highway has become increasingly dangerous and ongoing attacks on aid and construction workers as well as Afghan police and army have led to a virtual halt in development work in some southern provinces.

Meanwhile, US-led coalition troops and aircraft launched a fresh offensive against suspected Taliban militants dug into the mountains in the southeast, a military spokesman said on Monday. Afghan forces supported by US troops and aircraft have been engaged for the past week in a major operation against suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda bases in the mountains of Daychopan district of Zabul province, 300 km southwest of Kabul.

Southeast Afghanistan has been hard-hit by an apparent resurgence of Taliban fighters. Afghan authorities believe up to 300 Taliban fighters are regrouping in the mountains in Zabul and neighbouring Uruzgan, the birthplace of the Taliban's fugitive spiritual leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Theme (s): Conflict,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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