Taliban broke day of peace vow, ISAF says
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Despite a pledge to honor a United Nations-sponsored day of peace, Taliban insurgents killed several members of the Afghan army and police and kidnapped — and released — more than 130 civilians, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said Monday.
ISAF said a police officer was shot dead in northeastern Baghlan province, and an Afghan soldier had been shot and killed in Helmand province, in the southern part of the country. Meanwhile, more than 130 civilian workers were reported kidnapped in western Farah province, but all were released by Sunday evening, according to several news reports.
The Afghan government and NATO-led forces had vowed that they would cease all offensive operations from midnight Saturday until midnight Sunday, in observance of International Peace Day.
The NATO-led coalition said Monday that its forces and Afghan security forces had honored the pledge, and had responded only to incidents in order "to maintain the safety of the civilian population."
A Taliban spokesman had earlier said that the Taliban would also observe the cease-fire. But the NATO-led coalition said that 28 separate security incidents had occurred across Afghanistan within the 24-hour period.
Wire services reported that two security guards were killed in central Ghazni, when the Taliban attacked a supply convoy, and that an insurgent had shot and wounded a district chief in eastern Paktika province before being shot dead by soldiers. But ISAF did not mention those incidents in its statement.
There are currently about 70,000 foreign troops, including about 30,000 Americans, serving in Afghanistan under ISAF and under a separate U.S.-led coalition in the east.
The number of foreign forces in Afghanistan is the highest since the Taliban were ousted from power seven years ago. Despite their presence, insurgent violence has skyrocketed in the last three years, and U.S. troop deaths for the year are also at an all-time high.
Nearly 130 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, and more than 100 foreign soldiers have also died, according to icasualties.org, a website that tracks U.S. and allied deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.