Wave of attacks as Obama aide assesses Afghanistan plan
Kabul -- New attacks across Afghanistan killed 23 people including three German soldiers, authorities said Tuesday as US national security adviser James Jones visited to assess a new plan to fight militants.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack on a patrol that the German defence ministry said killed three of its soldiers outside the northern town of Kunduz.
The insurgent group also said it had carried out a suicide car bombing targeted at a US-led military convoy in the eastern province of Ghazni early Tuesday which killed two passers-by. Also in Ghazni, Taliban ambushed a police convoy, killing a policeman, provincial spokesman Ismail Jahangir told AFP.
In another attack which police blamed on the Taliban, three Afghan aid workers were killed in a roadside bombing in the northern province of Jawzjan,
"They were torn into pieces by this barbaric act," said Shafiqullah Wardak from the Development and Humanitarian Services for Afghanistan that employed the three.
Elsewhere, another blast killed three policemen just outside the southern city of Kandahar, Kandahar police chief Mutaihullah Khan Qateh said.
The Afghan army meanwhile reported a major clash in the southwestern province of Farah late Monday which left nine militants and two Afghan troops dead.
Violence has steadily climbed in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in a US-led invasion in late 2001, prompting US President Barack Obama to announce a new strategy in the costly battle.
Jones arrived in Kabul on Monday tasked with following up on the implementation of the strategy, which is seeing 21,000 US reinforcements deploy into the main battlefields in southern Afghanistan.
He met US General Stanley McChrystal, who took command a week ago of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, and was given an "overview of how we view the current situation," spokesman Rear Admiral Gregory J. Smith told AFP.
The briefing also covered US-led efforts to build the Afghan security forces, he said.
Jones later held talks with President Hamid Karzai including on how to put in place the Obama plan, a presidential spokesman said.
"We have seen the strategy and we fully endorse this strategy but we have to move towards implementation," spokesman Homayun Hamidzada told AFP.
Jones also visited the offices of the Independent Election Commission, where he reiterated US calls for a transparent and free election on August 20 when Afghans will choose their president for only the second time in history.
He said that US troops would work to ensure security, ahead of the elections, in about 11 districts where Taliban are said to have control.
"We will try to bring appropriate force levels to any area that is insecure so we can have a democratic process that we all want the Afghans to be able to benefit from," Jones said.
The official later met some of the opposition candidates for the elections, a test of internationally funded efforts to install democracy here after the removal of the Taliban regime and decades of war.
He is due to continue his visit in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday and was also expected to travel to neighbouring Pakistan, under pressure to crack down on militant sanctuaries that feed the insurgency here, as well as India.