The Terror Journal

A Journal on Terrorism and Genocide

Bomb attack kills Afghan MP

AfghanistanAn Afghan lawmaker and four of his bodyguards were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, a survivor said, the latest attack in a surge of Taliban-led violence this year.

Violence is at its highest since the Taliban was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001, with attacks spreading from the south and east to the outskirts of Kabul, forcing Washington to consider new policy options including a counter-insurgency push.

Daad Mohammad, a member of parliament for southern Helmand province and a former intelligence officer, was in a vehicle when it was hit by the bomb in Lashkar Gah district, his cousin Akhtar Mohammad told Reuters.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the incident, saying Daad Mohammad was involved in the peace process aimed at winning over the insurgents.

Insurgents often target lawmakers and some politicians complain that inadequate security leaves them vulnerable to attack. In November 2007, five parliamentarians were killed in a suicide attack in north Afghanistan.

“My reaction to this incident is that there is non-existent security for members of parliament who become soft targets,” MP Shukria Barakzai said.

Akhtar Mohammad, who survived the blast, said he believed the bomb was detonated by remote control.

Mainly British troops have been locked in daily clashes with Taliban militants in Helmand, the world’s biggest opium producing region, for nearly three years.

Also in the south, an Australian soldier was killed on Thursday while he tried to defuse a roadside bomb in Uruzgan province, another Taliban stronghold, defense officials in Canberra said.

He was the second Australian killed this week and the 10th since the campaign began. Australia has about 1,100 troops in Afghanistan, based mainly in Uruzgan.

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Earlier on Thursday foreign and Afghan troops killed two militants in a raid against al Qaeda bomb-makers, the U.S. military said, but angry protesters said the dead were civilians.

Civilian casualties are the greatest source of tension between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Western governments and have undermined public support for the presence of more than 70,000 foreign troops fighting the insurgency.

The early morning raid was aimed at disabling an al Qaeda cell of bomb-makers and planners in Bati Kot district in Nangarhar province, 140 km (90 miles) east of the capital Kabul, the U.S. military said in a statement.

But district governor Khaibar Momand condemned the killings, saying the victims were civilians and that the operation had not been coordinated with Afghan troops.

About 100 residents gathered to protest against the killings, saying they would not bury the bodies until they received an explanation. Four houses were also destroyed in the raid, residents told Reuters.

“It is better to join the Taliban than be neutral and be victimized,” one resident named Rahmatullah said.

“Foreign forces are not here for our security, they capture civilians in the middle of the night and kill them. The government is useless and we won’t ask anything from it. We can take our own revenge ourselves,” he said.

New policy options being considered in by President Barack Obama’s aides included a wider campaign to protect civilians, said a U.S. official in Washington who asked not to be named.

More than 2,100 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year, 40 percent more than in 2007, the United Nations said. Around a quarter were killed by international forces, it said.

The commander of all foreign forces in Afghanistan issued a directive last September saying his soldiers should not enter an Afghan house or mosque uninvited unless led by Afghan forces or troops were in “clear danger.”

Source: Reuters

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