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French soldiers, rebels killed in Afghan unrest
Cat : Afghanistan
Date : 2006-08-27 09:43:21                      Reader : 242
We request UN to send a delegation from UN Human Rights Council to investigate the situation there.

Associated France Press (AFP) 27/8/2006

French soldiers, rebels killed in Afghan unrest


KABUL (AFP) - Two French soldiers were killed in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan while separate airstrikes in the south killed 23 militants, including a known Taliban commander, military officials said.

Taliban insurgents meanwhile stormed government and police posts in two southern districts, sparking gun battles which left six rebels dead and two policemen missing, Afghan officials said.

And Canadian forces mistakenly shot dead a plainclothes policeman and wounded five other Afghans who did not stop at a checkpost in a tense area of southern Kandahar province, the birthplace of the extremist Taliban movement.

The latest bloodshed in an increasingly sophisticated insurgency came as the head of US forces in the region, General John Abizaid, and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende visited Afghanistan to assess operations here.

The ambush of the French special forces unit patrolling in the eastern province of Laghman on Friday started with a bomb blast, the US-led coalition hunting down Taliban and other rebels said.

The attackers then opened fire on the soldiers with small arms and machine guns, it said in a statement. Two other French troops were wounded.

Further south, coalition forces killed a known Taliban commander and 15 other militants in a precision airstrike Friday, another statement said.

The strike was in the southern province of Uruzgan where 1,400 Dutch troops are setting up.

Uruzgan is one of several provinces in southern and eastern Afghanistan that see the worst of the Taliban insurgency, which the militants launched after they were driven from government in late 2001 for harbouring Al-Qaeda.

Balkenende met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the capital Saturday to reaffirm his country's support to Afghanistan's efforts to rid itself of militants and rebuild after decades of war.

In another airstrike in the south, British troops with a NATO-led force used artillery fire against a convoy of insurgents that was moving into position for attack in Helmand province's Musa Qala district on Friday.

About seven insurgents were killed and seven vehicles destroyed, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

A secretary at a district court was killed Friday when Taliban stormed a government building in Ghazni province, a provincial government spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

And late on Thursday, rebels captured for several hours three police posts in a remote district of troubled Zabul province. Six Taliban were killed in the battle to retake the posts, police said. Two policemen were missing.

Canadian troops meanwhile shot and killed a plainclothes policeman and wounded five other Afghans in Kandahar province on Saturday, mistakenly thinking they were attackers, ISAF said.

The first shooting involved a unmarked truck carrying armed men in civilian clothes who later turned out to be plainclothes policemen, spokesman Major Scott Lundy told AFP.

The truck did not heed warnings to stop at an ISAF checkpost and started shooting, apparently in response to ISAF warning shots. One man was killed and four wounded.

About 40 minutes afterwards, two people on a scooter approached the same ISAF position at high speed and failed to stop. Warning shots were fired and one person was wounded, Lundy said.

ISAF took over command of foreign forces in the southern provinces on July 31, more than doubling the number of soldiers in the region to around 10,000, with the main deployments coming from Britain, Canada and The Netherlands.

The force also commands the northern and western regions where it has been pushing a program of stabilization and reconstruction.

This has left the US-led coalition -- which helped to topple the Taliban -- to command the east, where it is focusing on operations against their militants and others from Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Military officials have agreed that the guerrilla-like insurgency has shown more sophistication this year, which has seen the worst violence since 2001.

More than 1,500 people have been killed so far in 2006, according to a rough estimate, with more than 1,000 of them rebels.

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