Six Afghan MPs killed in blast

Kabul, November 6:

A bomb blast targeted a group of lawmakers touring a factory north of Kabul today, killing at least 20 people, including six parliamentarians, a lawmaker said.

The politicians were about to tour a sugar factor in the northern province of Baghlan when the blast went off. Six members of parliament were among at least 20 people killed, said Faizullah Zaki, a lawmaker from Jawzjan province.

Kamin Khan, a police official, said people “everywhere” were dead and wounded, including police, children, lawmakers and officials from the Department of Agriculture. Afghanistan’s major television station, Tolo TV, reported more than 100 people killed and wounded.

Among the six lawmakers killed was Sayed Mustafa Kazimi, a former Afghan commerce minister and a powerful member of the Northern Alliance, said the lawmaker’s secretary, Ahmadi, who gave only one name.

An AFP report from Ghazni said the Taliban captured a remote district in central Afghanistan overnight, a provincial governor said today, making it the third district to be overrun by the rebels in just over a week.

Local security forces fled into the mountains late yesterday after dozens of Islamic extremists stormed Kijran district, provincial governor Sultan Uruzgani said.

At least five policemen were captured following the raid, he told AFP. “The Taliban are in the full control of the district. Our police force and other officials have fled to the mountains,” he said. The Taliban, who were in government between 1996 and 2001 and are waging a campaign to take back power, have previously overrun the centres of several remote districts.

Afghan security forces backed by international troops are usually easily able to retake the districts after a couple of days. But they have not yet launched an operation to take back Bakwa and Gulistan, two districts in the southwestern province of Farah that were abandoned by security forces after attacks by large group of Taliban last week.

The rebels also held another district in Farah for a few hours at the weekend before the security forces arrived and ejected them. The Taliban regrouped soon after they were driven from government and are leading an intensifying insurgency that has been focused on southern and eastern Afghanistan but is making inroads into other parts of the country. Around 20 rebel fighters were killed in the western province of Badghis overnight in an air strike by Afghan and NATO-led forces, an army general said today.