Reuters on Saturday, February 08, 2003
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Unidentified gunmen have attacked a security post in southwest Afghanistan, killing five Afghan soldiers and kidnapping two others, the local security chief said on Saturday.
The attackers opened fire on the post in Chotu village, Helmand province, late on Friday, security chief Daad Mohammad told Reuters.
“Our people were praying when they were attacked,” he said.
Officials have warned of strengthening resistance from former Taliban fighters in recent weeks, particularly across the south of the country.
Police and security officials said they suspected the Taliban may be behind both the attack and recent distributions of anti-U.S. pamphlets and posters, although there was no immediate proof.
Kabul residents reported a man on a bicycle dispersed on Friday leaflets from a previously unknown Islamic group demanding the immediate departure of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan and a return to a strict Islamic dress code for women.
“Death to America” said the leaflet, issued by a group calling itself Pious Mujahideen (holy warriors) of Islam.
“Our country is once again occupied by foreigners and enemies of Islam and criminal America is the leader,” the group said in the leaflet, which was written in the local Dari language.
“One day we will make them cry like the Russians,” it added, referring to the expulsion of the Soviet Red Army in 1989 after 10 years of rebellion.
Up to 8,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan leading the hunt for remnants of the Taliban regime and the al Qaeda network blamed for the September 11 attacks. There are fears a U.S.-led war on Iraq could aggravate opposition to the foreign forces.
A statement, claimed to be from the ousted Taliban, was faxed to a Pakistan newspaper on Friday calling on Afghans to join a jihad (holy struggle) against the West and its allies.
The statement said Afghanistan was insecure and unstable after what it called 13 months of “foreign occupation.”
The Pakistani newspaper, The News, quoted a senior Taliban commander as saying the communique was genuine.
A spokesman at the U.S. military headquarters at Bagram, just north of Kabul, said unidentified Afghan fighters fired four mortar rounds just north of the base early on Saturday, although they appeared to be aimed away from the site.
No casualties or damage were reported.