Afghan battle kills 12, injures French solidiers

14th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Aug 14, 2006 (AFP) - Eleven Taliban fighters and a policeman died in a fierce battle in southern Afghanistan Monday, while a bomb hit a NATO convoy in Kabul and wounded four French soldiers, officials said.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, Aug 14, 2006 (AFP) - Eleven Taliban fighters and a policeman died in a fierce battle in southern Afghanistan Monday, while a bomb hit a NATO convoy in Kabul and wounded four French soldiers, officials said.

The Taliban rebels attacked a police post in the Kajaki district of volatile Helmand province, sparking a firefight that lasted for two hours, deputy provincial governor Mullah Amir Akhundzada said.

"At around noon (0730 GMT) the Taliban fled the area leaving 11 bodies behind. One policeman was killed and another two were wounded," Akhundzada told AFP.

Three insurgents were arrested, he added.

Helmand has been hard hit by a wave of violence blamed on remnants of the Taliban regime who were forced from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Around 3,000 British troops are based in Helmand, which is also Afghanistan's biggest opium producing province.

The four French troops suffered minor injuries when a roadside bomb exploded near a medical convoy during Monday morning rush hour in Khair Khana, a northern district of the capital Kabul.

"Three soldiers were wounded on an armoured military carrier and a fourth soldier was wounded in a small light armoured vehicle," said Colonel Jacky Fouquereau of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Interior ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai said the bomb had been fixed to a bicycle. He blamed the attack on "enemies of Afghanistan", a phrase often used by Afghan officials to refer to the Taliban.

The Taliban, backed by Al-Qaeda and other Islamic militants, have stepped up attacks across the south of the country, where a NATO force took over from a US-led coalition on July 31.

French General Franck Le Bot, who took command earlier this month of NATO forces in Kabul province, said on August 6 that he had the means to ensure "maximum security" in the capital.

Riots in the heavily guarded city in May left 17 people dead and there has been a series of attacks since the start of July, creating fear amongst the large expatriate community there.

Police on Monday arrested two would-be suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their bodies in the eastern part of Kabul, Stanizai said. Their nationalties were not known and they were being questioned.

Separately, border police arrested a suspected Pakistani national carrying five remote-controlled bombs as he crossed the frontier into Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, police said.

The suspect, named as Dunia Gul, confessed he was planning roadside bomb attacks against coalition and Afghan forces in the provincial capital Jalalabad, police spokesman Ghafor Khan said.

Another person was arrested at his house in the province's Bati Kot district and 12 kilograms of explosives, two bombs and anti-government propaganda leaflets from an Islamic militia were confiscated, Khan said.

Kabul has repeatedly accused Islamabad of failing to tackle militants operating from Pakistan's remote northwestern tribal areas and from its southwestern desert province of Baluchistan.

Pakistan says it has 80,000 troops along the porous frontier dealing with the problem.

In a speech to mark Pakistan's Independence Day Monday, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan would "continue to play its role in bringing peace, stability and democracy" to Afghanistan, state media said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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