Deaths in Afghan roadside blasts

Attack in Paktia province claims five civilians while two Nato troops are killed on highway in country's south.

    Sunday's blasts came a day after four Italian troops were killed in the southwestern province of Farah [AFP]

    At least seven people including two Nato troops have been killed in Afghanistan by roadside bombs, Nato has said.

    Five members of a family died in a roadside blast in eastern Paktia province while Nato troops were killed in an explosion on a highway in southern Afghanistan, Nato said without giving their nationalities or a specific location.

    Sunday's deaths, which have brought to 26 the number of Nato forces killed this month, came a day after four Italian troops died in a roadside blast in western Farah province.

    At least 2,014 Nato troops have died since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

    In a separate incident, a joint force was ambushed with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in southern Helmand province's Sangin district on Sunday, according to Nato.

    Troops returned fire and called in an airstrike, killing more than 15 anti-government fighters.

    Peace council

    Meanwhile, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, announced on Sunday the recently formed peace council had selected Burhanuddin Rabbani, as its chairman.

    Karzai praised their choice, saying Rabbani's leadership would be "good for Afghanistan".

    Rabbani said: "Peace is not impossible. We'll achieve it with the help of God, but we need each others support and hard work. I am hopeful that this difficult task, which we have been appointed with, will become easy for us and we will be able to take a step forward for the welfare of our people and stability in our country."

    Rabbani was one of a group of mujahedeen leaders who fought the Soviets in the 1980s and was Afghanistan's president between 1992 and 1996, when he was ousted by the Taliban.

    The 70-member panel, which formally began work on Thursday, was created by Karzai to have a structure in place to guide talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

    "How much longer can we wait for foreigners to establish security for us? How much longer can we witness explosions in our mosques and see our leaders killed?" Rabbani said as he accepted the position. "Peace will come when we co-operate."

    Publicly, the Taliban has said it will not negotiate until foreign troops leave the country, yet many Taliban leaders have reached out directly or indirectly to the highest levels of the Afghan government.

    There have been no formal negotiations yet between the Afghan government and the Taliban, only some contacts and signals from each side, according to Waheed Omar, Karzai's spokesman. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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