AFGHANISTAN: Taliban attack U.S. aid company, five killed
July 2, 2010 by warvictims
02 Jul 2010 14:08:50 GMT
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, July 2 (Reuters) – Taliban suicide bombers and gunmen stormed a U.S. contracting company office in northern Afghanistan on Friday, killing five people including three foreigners and wounding 24 others, a senior official said.
The pre-dawn attack happened in relatively peaceful Kunduz province when insurgents attacked the newly opened offices of Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), provincial governor Mohammad Omar told Reuters.
In a statement, President Hamid Karzai said the raid was the work of “foreign paymasters” — a veiled reference to Pakistan and the links Afghanistan says Islamabad has with the Taliban.
One British citizen was killed during the fierce five-hour gunbattle that ensued, along with a German national and a Filipino, while two Afghans also died, Omar said.
“Our security forces managed to rescue around eight American workers inside the compound,” he said.
The latest attack comes as newly-appointed U.S. and NATO forces commander General David Petraeus was due to arrive in the country to oversee the fight against the Taliban and try to reverse the insurgency’s momentum. Earlier, NATO said a western soldier died in a separate insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan.
According to its website (http://www.dai.com), the company is one of USAID’s principal service providers and specialises in post-conflict reconstruction, local government, agribusiness and natural resource management.
At least one of the bombers blew himself up in front of the gate to allow other fighters to push inside, triggering a fierce five-hour gunbattle with security guards and police who surrounded the building, Omar said.
ATTACKS The raid in Kunduz follows a similar pattern of brazen attacks by insurgents elsewhere in the country, with Taliban fighters trying to seize government or foreign-linked buildings before going down with guns blazing and suicide vests.
Afghan police and security guards battled insurgents for most of the morning before the attackers were killed, Omar said. Foreign workers fled to the roof of the five-story building for safety as the battle continued in floors below.
International troops helped Afghan security forces ferry wounded civilians to a nearby military base for emergency care, a coalition military spokeswoman said in a statement. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said at least six suicide bombers and fighters were involved in the attack in a province mainly patrolled by German forces under NATO-command.
Violence in Afghanistan is at its worst despite the presence of some 150,000 foreign and over 100,000 Afghan troops and police. More than 100 foreign troops died in Afghanistan last month, the deadliest since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001.
Insurgents have managed to infiltrate remote villages and districts in the province as they seek to push their reach and influence beyond traditional strongholds in the south ahead of a looming “surge” offensive by U.S.-led coalition forces. (Additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul; Writing by Rob Taylor; Editing by Miral Fahmy)