11 Afghan landmine clearers abducted by unidentified kidnappers

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Unidentified kidnappers have abducted 11 Afghans working in a United Nations-affiliated landmine clearing programme in the east of the country, officials said on Saturday.

The 11 were taken on Thursday in a remote part of Nangarhar province, said provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal. He did not name the abductors but said local officials and tribal elders were trying to negotiate the mine clearers' freedom.

According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 10 million mines scattered throughout 150 of Afghanistan's 400 districts, a legacy of 30 years of war. Children and farmers face the most serious threats from the discarded explosive devices.

On Friday, three children in central Ghazni province were killed when they tried to dismantle an old bomb.

Also on Saturday, a bomb killed an intelligence officer at his home in a remote northeastern corner of the country, officials said.

Mr Mohammed Zahir, spokesman for Nuristan's governor, said the province's deputy intelligence chief Faiz Mohammed was the only casualty. It wasn't immediately known how the bomb was detonated.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing but Taleban insurgents have been targeting US-backed government officials, calling them puppets and traitors.

Afghanistan's intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid was badly injured in a suicide bombing in Kabul in December. The Taleban took responsibility for that attack.

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