Five dead as Taliban attack aid compound in Afghanistan

Five dead as Taliban attack aid compound in Afghanistan

Three foreigners and two Afghan security personnel were killed Friday in northern Afghanistan when Taliban suicide bombers attacked a US aid contractor, NATO and Afghan officials said, dpa reported.

   "A German, a British and a Filipino were killed in the suicide attacks and firefight with the Taliban," Kunduz Governor Mohammad Omar said.

   One Afghan police officer and a private security guard were also killed in the six-hour battle while 22 other people, including civilians and security guards, were injured, he said.

Both the German and British victims worked as private security guards, the two countries' respective foreign ministries said.

A second Briton involved in the attack was left in a "critical condition" following the injuries he sustained, the Foreign Office in London said on Friday.

The 32-year-old German victim hailed from that country's northernmost state, Schleswig-Holstein, the German Foreign Ministry said Friday in Berlin. Sources said the men had previously been a German Army soldier.

   Germany strongly condemned the Taliban attack.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, had no confirmation about the Filipino victim, but said it was checking reports about the death.

   According to Omar, the attack unfolded when at least six militants stormed a compound occupied by Development Alternatives Inc in Kunduz city, capital of Kunduz province.

   An attacker detonated a car bomb at the gate of the compound while a second bomber set off his suicide vest inside it, killing and injuring security forces and company employees, Omar said.

   All six militants were killed either by their own bombs or by Afghan and US security forces, he said.

   Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed that dozens of security forces, including foreign nationals, were killed in the attack.

   It was not immediately known how many people were inside the compound, which is located beside a guesthouse in the centre of the city.

   Washington-based Development Alternatives has offices in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, according to its website.

   The company - which specializes in post-conflict reconstruction, the development of democratic governance and agribusiness - is a service provider for USAID, the US government's international aid agency.

   Humayun Khamoosh, the head of the Kunduz provincial hospital, said 22 injured had been brought to the hospital, including civilians and security forces.

   NATO troops were also evacuating injured people to a hospital inside a German military base in the city, the alliance said in a statement.

   NATO condemned the attack, which it called "an attempt to intimidate Afghans and members of the international community trying to improve the lives of all Afghans."

   Taliban militants have intensified their attacks as part of their spring offensive aimed at extending their influence beyond their traditional strongholds in the south of the country.

   The attack in Kunduz in comparatively peaceful northern Afghanistan came two days after eight militants attacked a US- operated airfield in the eastern province of Nangarhar. All the attackers were killed by Afghan and US troops.

   Foreign troops in Kunduz province are mainly German and American. Officials said German soldiers did not take part in Friday's fight.

   Meanwhile, a soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed in an insurgent attack in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said in a statement.

   The statement did not reveal the nationality of the soldier. Most of the troops stationed in the eastern region are from the United States, while small units of French and Polish troops are also deployed there.

   More than 100 foreign soldiers were killed in the Afghan war in June, marking it the deadliest month for NATO forces since the ouster of the Taliban regime in late 2001.

   There are more than 130,000 US and NATO troops currently based in Afghanistan. The total number of foreign forces is set to peak at 150,000 by August, when thousands of extra US troops are set to arrive, mostly to the southern region.

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