German aid worker, guard killed in Kabul

KABUL • A German aid worker and an Afghan guard were killed as gunmen stormed an international guest house in central Kabul, officials said yesterday, as insecurity rises in the war-torn country.

A Finnish woman was also kidnapped from the guest house run by Swedish charity Operation Mercy, with no group so far claiming responsibility for the attack late last Saturday.

In a further sign of violence roiling the country, 20 Afghan policemen were killed early yesterday when Taleban fighters stormed their outposts in the southern province of Zabul, as the insurgents escalate their annual spring offensive.

The country's interior ministry confirmed the brazen Kabul attack, the latest in a series of assaults on aid workers in Afghanistan.

The kidnapping of foreigners has been on the rise, but the threat of abductions is even greater among Afghans.

Kabul is plagued by organised criminal gangs who stage abductions for ransom, often targeting foreigners and wealthy locals, and sometimes handing them over to insurgent groups.

The violence underscores the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, which is in the grip of an insurgency waged by the Taleban and other groups.

The Taleban claimed responsibility for the coordinated attack in Zabul's Shah Joy district, which marks another stinging blow to Nato-backed Afghan forces.

Local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention as they were unable to get hold of senior authorities for help, highlighting the disarray in security ranks.

"This morning, a group of Taleban fighters armed with heavy and light weapons launched coordinated attacks on several police checkpoints, killing 20 policemen," provincial governor Bismillah Afghanmal told AFP. A district official said that at least 15 others were wounded in the fighting.

The raid, the latest in a series of brazen Taleban assaults, underscores the insurgents' growing strength more than 15 years since they were ousted from power by the United States invasion of 2001.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 22, 2017, with the headline 'German aid worker, guard killed in Kabul'. Print Edition | Subscribe