Attacks on Afghans increasing in border provinces
June 10, 2009
KHOST, Afghanistan — American and Afghan forces have seen a decrease in attacks against them since last year in the rugged eastern border provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika, but civilians and local government facilities are increasingly targeted in a show of intimidation by the Taliban, a U.S. spokesman said Tuesday.
In May, insurgent attacks killed and wounded nearly 200 civilians. Attacks included shootings, roadside bombs, school bombings and attempts on the lives of local officials, said Maj. Matthew Gregory of the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division of Fort Richardson, Alaska, which is operating in the three provinces.
"They are trying to stay away from us and intimidate the local population," Gregory said.
U.S. and coalition forces report near-daily encounters with Taliban insurgents in the area, where stepped-up counterinsurgency operations are yielding results.
Sending a ruthless message, Taliban attackers ambushed a subgovernor of Paktika province last week, attacking the Amna subgovernor and his children with small-arms fire, then burning them to death in their vehicle. It was a show of brutal force against the regional government, which is cooperating closely with coalition forces in this tense eastern province that shares about 200 miles of border with Pakistan.
"The enemy showed no mercy for those young kids," Paktika governor Qayum Katawazay told reporters Friday. "They acted with such brutality, I have no words for it."
In a separate incident Sunday, the subgovernor of the Sarhawza district in Paktika, Momammad Baz, was wounded when his convoy was struck by a roadside bomb, and on Tuesday a doctor in Khost was killed by a bomb planted in his vehicle, Gregory said.
Katawazay said that in the last month, coalition and Afghan security forces killed 96 insurgents and found numerous weapons caches.
In the Wormamay district in southwestern Paktika, Afghan and coalition forces cleared a Taliban base, killing 46 Taliban fighters including four suicide bombers wearing explosive vests, he said.
The Amna subgovernor was returning from a shopping trip with one grown son and three young sons, ages 4, 6 and 8, the Paktika governor said.
Attackers opened fire, wounding the subgovernor and his grown son, who escaped to call for help, Katawazay said. But by the time help came, the attackers had forced the wounded sub-governor and the three children into the car and used a canister of gasoline in the vehicle to set it alight.
All four were killed, Katawazay said. The elder son survived and remains in the hospital, Katawazay told reporters.