Police: Fighting erupts in eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, explosions heard at airport

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fighting erupts at airport in eastern Afghan city

KABUL, Afghanistan — Fighting has erupted in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad where police say they heard explosions at the airport.

Ghafor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief in Nangarhar province, said Wednesday that police heard blasts and gunshots from inside the airport. He says international forces have blocked access to the area.

The Taliban claims six suicide attackers entered the airport in Jalalabad, 125 kilometers east of the Afghan capital. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid says more than 30 people were killed in the morning attack, but the insurgent group often exaggerates accounts of their attacks.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan man working for the United Nations was shot and killed in his vehicle Tuesday near a busy traffic circle in Afghanistan’s capital, the world body said.

Elsewhere, U.S. and Afghan forces battled hundreds of militants from an al-Qaida-linked group for a third day in Kunar province of eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said. Two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in the first day of the operation.

The Afghan U.N. employee who died was driving a white pickup truck with the blue U.N. logo painted on the side. Another Afghan member of the U.N. staff, who was in the vehicle, was not wounded, the U.N. said.

The morning shooting occurred amid heavy traffic near Massoud circle, an intersection near the U.S. Embassy and an American military base. Two windows on the truck were shattered and blood was spattered inside the car.

“The circumstances of the shooting are not yet clear,” a statement released by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said. “United Nations security teams are working with Afghan security institutions to assist investigations.”

U.N. officials extended condolences to the victim, who has not been identified.

“The United Nations condemns violence against any of its personnel under any circumstances,” the U.N. statement said. “Those responsible for this killing should be brought to justice without delay.”

Mirajudin, who was at the scene of the shooting moments after it happened, said he and the passenger helped pull the driver out.

“I saw that the driver was shot in his eye,” said Mirajudin, who still had blood smeared on his arms. “He was bleeding from the eye and from the nose. I helped him, and we put him in an ambulance.”

The attack in Kunar was directed against insurgents believed responsible for the roadside bombing that killed five American service members in the area on June 7, a U.S. statement said.

The militants were believed to be members of the Haqqani group, a faction of the Taliban based in Pakistan which has close ties to al-Qaida. About 600 U.S. and Afghan troops are taking part in the operation, the U.S. statement said.

In southeastern Kabul, a protest against NATO forces in Afghanistan turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police. At least 15 police officers and five civilians were wounded, according to Mohammad Khalil Dastyar, deputy police chief in the capital.

About 300 protesters blocked streets in the neighborhood of Qalacha. Some threw rocks through windows. A small group hoisted a banner that said: “We don’t want American occupiers.”

An AP reporter at the scene heard gunshots, but it was unclear who was shooting. A police official said some of the protesters were shooting Kalashnikov rifles. Two police vehicles were damaged. Police were seen arresting six suspects.

The protest was prompted by a raid that Afghan police and intelligence officials conducted Monday night at a madrassa, or religious school, in which three people were arrested, Dastyar said. One demonstrator said they were angry because foreign troops with the Afghan forces had torn up copies of the Quran and let a dog — considered unclean in Islam — rummage through a mosque.

However, Akthar Mohammad Noorzoi, chief of police in the district where the raid occurred, said that while foreign forces surrounded the area, Afghan officials actually conducted the raid.

A NATO spokesman, Lt. Comm. Iain Baxter, confirmed that NATO forces took part in a search in Kabul last night and arrested a number of suspected insurgents. Another NATO spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Vician, said no dogs were used in any coalition operation in Kabul on Monday night.

Separately, three Afghan soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded since Monday morning in bomb explosions across the country, according to the Ministry of Defense. No other details were provided.

The Ministry of Interior reported that a private security guard was killed when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Sayd Abad district of Wardak province, west of Kabul, and two civilians were killed when their motorbike hit a roadside bomb in the Pusht Rod district of Farah province in western Afghanistan.

In the south, two security guards were killed and three were wounded in an explosion in the Maizan district of Zabul province, said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Also in Zabul, six security guards were killed and five others were wounded in a three-hour gunbattle with insurgents, Rasoolyar said.

In neighboring Kandahar, two local men were killed by a roadside bomb in Khakrez district, according to Zulmai Ayubi, spokesman for the provincial governor.

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