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Five Afghans working at US base shot dead

Written by: Staff
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JALALABAD, Afghanistan, July 4 (Reuters) Five Afghan labourers working at a US military base in Afghanistan have been killed in an ambush on their way home from work, police said today.

Taliban insurgents and their militant allies have unleashed a wave of attacks this year against foreign and government troops, and anyone supporting them. The violence is the worst since the hardline Taliban were ousted in 2001.

''Gunmen stopped their vehicle, took them out and opened fire.

Five were killed and one wounded,'' said Abdul Jalal Jalal, chief of police in the eastern province of Kunar.

The labourers worked at a US base in the province on the Pakistani border. Kunar is one of the most violent parts of the country where US forces have mounted a series of offensives.

It was the second major attack on people working for foreign forces in less than three weeks. A bomb hit a minibus taking workers to a military base in the southern city of Kandahar on June 15, killing eight of them.

Jalal said the gunmen appeared to be foreigners. He blamed the Taliban.

''The wounded guy said the gunmen were speaking Urdu and Arabic,'' he told Reuters.

Urdu is widely spoken in neighbouring Pakistan from where the US military says insurgents are infiltrating into Afghanistan.

A US military spokeswoman in Kabul said she had no information about the attack.

About 1,200 people, most of them militants, have been killed in Afghanistan since January. About 60 foreign troops have been killed.

Afghan officials say the Taliban are only able to be so aggressive because of the funds and weapons they get in Pakistan.

The militants are also profiting from the huge opium trade, Afghan and U.S. officials say.

The surge of violence comes as a NATO-led peacekeeping force prepares to take over command from a separate US-led force in the Afghan south in what looks set to be the alliance's toughest-ever ground mission.

The NATO force now operates in the generally peaceful north, west, in Kabul and other central regions.

The US-led force will remain responsible for Kunar and the rest of the east for now, but eventually the NATO force is due to take over responsibilities for the whole country.

But while gradually handing over command to the NATO force, the United States says it will never abandon Afghanistan.

Reaffirming its commitment on Monday, the United States said it was giving Afghanistan JALALABAD, Afghanistan, July 4 (Reuters) Five Afghan labourers working at a US military base in Afghanistan have been killed in an ambush on their way home from work, police said today.

Taliban insurgents and their militant allies have unleashed a wave of attacks this year against foreign and government troops, and anyone supporting them. The violence is the worst since the hardline Taliban were ousted in 2001.

''Gunmen stopped their vehicle, took them out and opened fire.

Five were killed and one wounded,'' said Abdul Jalal Jalal, chief of police in the eastern province of Kunar.

The labourers worked at a US base in the province on the Pakistani border. Kunar is one of the most violent parts of the country where US forces have mounted a series of offensives.

It was the second major attack on people working for foreign forces in less than three weeks. A bomb hit a minibus taking workers to a military base in the southern city of Kandahar on June 15, killing eight of them.

Jalal said the gunmen appeared to be foreigners. He blamed the Taliban.

''The wounded guy said the gunmen were speaking Urdu and Arabic,'' he told Reuters.

Urdu is widely spoken in neighbouring Pakistan from where the US military says insurgents are infiltrating into Afghanistan.

A US military spokeswoman in Kabul said she had no information about the attack.

About 1,200 people, most of them militants, have been killed in Afghanistan since January. About 60 foreign troops have been killed.

Afghan officials say the Taliban are only able to be so aggressive because of the funds and weapons they get in Pakistan.

The militants are also profiting from the huge opium trade, Afghan and U.S. officials say.

The surge of violence comes as a NATO-led peacekeeping force prepares to take over command from a separate US-led force in the Afghan south in what looks set to be the alliance's toughest-ever ground mission.

The NATO force now operates in the generally peaceful north, west, in Kabul and other central regions.

The US-led force will remain responsible for Kunar and the rest of the east for now, but eventually the NATO force is due to take over responsibilities for the whole country.

But while gradually handing over command to the NATO force, the United States says it will never abandon Afghanistan.

Reaffirming its commitment on Monday, the United States said it was giving Afghanistan $2 billion worth of rifles, vehicles and other military equipment.

Afghan officials said the supplies would include 2,500 Humvee vehicles and tens of thousands of rifles. The United States will also build an Afghan army headquarters.

US and NATO commanders see building up the government's forces as their Afghan ''exit strategy'' but that is expected to take years.

REUTERS RS1347 billion worth of rifles, vehicles and other military equipment.

Afghan officials said the supplies would include 2,500 Humvee vehicles and tens of thousands of rifles. The United States will also build an Afghan army headquarters.

US and NATO commanders see building up the government's forces as their Afghan ''exit strategy'' but that is expected to take years.

REUTERS RS1347

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