Taliban take aim at Officials to undermine counter-insurgency

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Kabul, June 10 (ANI): Government assassinations are nothing new as a Taliban tactic, but now the Taliban are taking aim at officials who are much more low-level, who often do not have the sort of bodyguards or other protection that top leaders do.

According to the New York Times, the Taliban has been stepping up its campaign of assassinations against officials and anyone else associated with local government in an attempt to undermine counter-insurgency operations in the south.

A NATO official said: "They read the papers; they know what we are doing. It's very much game on between the coalition and the Taliban."

The assassinations have been effective in slowing recruitment of government officials, he said.

Among the victims have been Mohammed Hassan Wolsi, head of the agriculture and livestock cooperative in the province, shot April 2 by a man with a pistol while buying a loaf of bread at an outdoor stall; an 18-year-old Afghan woman named Hosay, shot to death in an auto-rickshaw as she rode home from her job at Democracy International, an aid group, in Kandahar; Hajji Abdul Hay, the brother of a prominent member of Parliament, shot in the bazaar in the city; a bodyguard named Hajji Mohammed who worked for the provincial council chairman, Ahmed Wali Karzai; and a district intelligence agent, identified only as Zia, killed on a visit to the city.

The youngest victim was the 7-year-old boy, identified only as the grandson of a farmer named Qodos Khan Alokozy, from the village of Herati in the Sangin District of Helmand Province.

According to Daoud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the governor's office in Helmand, Taliban insurgents went to his village and dragged the boy from his home at 10:30 a.m., accusing him of acting as a government informant by telling the authorities of their movements. They killed him by hanging him from a tree in the middle of the village.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, the NATO force in Afghanistan, cautioned, however, that it was not clear whether all of the recent spate of killings could be attributed to the Taliban. (ANI)

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