Afghan vice president survives attack
* Two coalition soldiers killed, 8 wounded in gun battles
KABUL: An Afghan vice-president survived an assassination attempt on Monday when a remotely controlled device was detonated near his convoy, while two soldiers from the US-led coalition were killed in a separate gunbattle.
Nematuallah Shahrani, one of four vice-presidents in the interim government of President Hamid Karzai, was in a convoy with other officials in the northern province of Kunduz when it was attacked, said provincial governor Mohammad Omar Khan.
Karzai, favourite to win an Oct 9 presidential election, survived an assassination attempt last week when a rocket was fired at a helicopter he was in as it came in to land in the southeastern town of Gardez. The rocket missed.
Remnants of the Taliban and Islamic militant allies, including Al Qaeda, have been blamed for a wave of violence concentrated in the south and east of the country in which about 1,000 people have been killed in the last year. They have vowed to disrupt preparations for the presidential election.
Two soldiers from the US-led coalition hunting al Qaeda and Taliban fighters were killed in a gunbattle in the southeastern province of Paktika, the US military said.
Six Afghan soldiers had to be evacuated from the scene of the battle, although the US military which leads a 17,000-strong multinational force in Afghanistan, did not give details of their wounds. Two soldiers from the US-led force were slightly wounded.
Other clashes erupted on Monday between the US-led force and suspected militants in the central province of Uruzgan and the southern province of Zabul.
The nationality of the two fatalities on Monday was not immediately clear.
Over the weekend, suspected Taliban militants beheaded three Afghan soldiers in Zabul, a local official said on Monday.
Zabul security chief Jailani Khan said the soldiers, who were not in uniform, were travelling in a taxi from Naubahar district to the provincial capital of Qalat when they were stopped by a group of men that included two Pakistanis and an Arab.
The three passengers were beheaded in an attack claimed by a breakaway Taliban faction.
“We have already announced that anyone in the government or aiding the infidels will be killed,” said Sabir Momin, a commander of the Taliban Jamiat Jaish-e-Muslimeen (Muslim Army of the Taliban) faction.
The faction announced in August it had broken away from the main Taliban movement, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 before being ousted in a US-led war after it failed to hand over Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. reuters