KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgents in southern Afghanistan claim they have kidnapped and killed six Afghan government workers, police spokesmen in the neighboring southern provinces of Kandahar and Zabul said Sunday. Taliban insurgents control much of southern Afghanistan and have waged a campaign against anyone supporting the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.
The victims were kidnapped two days ago and reportedly killed Sunday, the police spokesmen said. The men were pulled from a truck and later shot to death, Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Kandahar governor, told The Times.
Gulham Gelani Farahee, deputy police chief of Zabul, said in a separate interview that he had received conflicting reports that the men were either shot or beheaded. Officials also said it was not clear whether the killings took place in Kandahar or Zabul, where insurgents also hold sway.
Also Sunday, officials at the Ministry of Interior in Kabul raised the death total from a suicide car bomb Saturday to 13 – 10 Afghan civilians and three Afghan security force members – and 29 wounded. A suicide bomber detonated explosives on the street outside the site of a gathering of some 2,700 prominent Afghans who will begin a five-day national assembly Thursday.
The assembly, called a loya jirga, has been convened by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to vote on whether to approve a draft security agreement with the United States that would establish the level of partnership between the nations after international combat troops depart Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
The Taliban, which took responsibility for the attack, has condemned the loya jirga as a farce and vowed to punish any delegate taking part. Afghan security forces on Sunday expanded their security cordon around the loya jirga site on a university campus in western Kabul, where the bombing mangled 17 cars and badly damaged 18 shops.
In the northern province of Balkh, the deputy governor, Mohammed Tahir Wadat, survived an explosion triggered by a suicide bomber, but the blast killed an Afghan civilian and wounded Wadat's bodyguard, according to the Interior Ministry.
In southern Afghanistan, an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member was killed by a roadside bomb, ISAF announced Sunday. The force does not reveal the nationality of fallen service members until the next of kin is notified. Most ISAF service members in the south are American or British.
Prior to Sunday, 147 ISAF service members had died in Afghanistan this year, among them 117 Americans, according to the independent tracking website icasualties.org. In 2102, 402 ISAF service members died, 310 of them Americans, according to the website.