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Taliban Suspected in New Attacks

3 Truckers Ferrying Vehicles to U.S. in Afghanistan Among Dead

Associated Press
Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page A22

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, April 2 -- Suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed a convoy of civilian trucks carrying vehicles to the U.S. military in southern Afghanistan, killing three drivers, an Afghan official said Saturday.

Also Saturday, dozens of Taliban fighters attacked the office of a district chief in southern Afghanistan before dawn, killing three Afghan soldiers, an official said. He said the soldiers are believed to have killed about nine rebels.

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The attacks were part of a wave of violence that followed a lull during the harsh Afghan winter.

"This shows that some in the Taliban or other anti-government insurgents will continue to try to destabilize Afghanistan through violent acts," said Lt. Cindy Moore, a U.S. military spokeswoman. "There is still a threat out there."

The gunmen attacked the trucks Friday after they crossed the Pakistani border at Spin Boldak, 55 miles south of the city of Kandahar, said Fazeluddin Agha, the district chief of Spin Boldak.

Three drivers -- two Pakistanis and one Afghan -- were killed in a hail of gunfire that severely damaged the trucks and two of the military vehicles, Agha said. He did not identify the types of vehicles being transported.

The fourth driver escaped and told authorities that four gunmen had appeared in the road in front of the convoy and opened fire, Agha said.

Agha blamed Taliban militants but provided no evidence of their involvement. In the past, purported Taliban officials have asserted responsibility for attacks on trucks supplying U.S. bases.

In southern Helmand province, dozens of Taliban fighters attacked a government office in the district of Daisho, 175 miles southwest of Kandahar, triggering a shootout that left three soldiers dead and four wounded, Afghan official Haji Mohammed Rahim said.

"We think our men killed about nine Taliban, but Taliban took their bodies," Rahim said, adding that the soldiers had not seen the bodies of any attackers.

U.S. commanders insist the insurgency is unraveling in the face of American operations and Afghan offers of reconciliation. But a core of Taliban militants has continued to fight more than three years after the hard-line militia was ousted.

Moore had no information on Friday's incident but said that the "number and severity of attacks" had increased and that the 17,000 U.S. troops in the country would "aggressively pursue those seeking to destabilize the government."


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