Policeman, dozen rebels killed in Afghan unrest

One policeman was killed and three people wounded when a bomb exploded in the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday, authorities said, also reporting a dozen militant deaths elsewhere in Afghanistan.

The blast took place close to the defence ministry, about 200 metres (yards) from a police post, as an officer attempted to defuse the Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

Crudely made bombs are the weapon of choice for Taliban militants who have waged a bloody insurgency against Afghan and international forces since they were toppled by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.

“The explosion was caused by an IED. The explosives were placed in a bag and were left in the area,” interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.

One policeman was killed, and two civilians and another policeman wounded in the explosion, he said, blaming the attack on “enemies of Afghanistan” — a term often used to refer to Taliban militants.

IEDs, which are made from abandoned ordnance, or easily available materials such as nuts, bolts, ball bearings and agricultural fertiliser, are the main cause of casualties to Afghan and foreign troops.

It is thought the IED was made from a cannon shell, Mohammad Zahir, chief of criminal investigations for Kabul police, told AFP.

“The policeman realised there was an 82mm cannon shell…. To avoid any possible explosion, he tried to defuse the shell and that is when the shell exploded,” Zahir said.

The last major attack in Kabul came two weeks ago, when two suicide bombers targeted an Afghan army bus, killing five military personnel.

About 220 kilometres (about 130 miles) northeast of the capital, hundreds of police swept Tuesday through villages, killing at least eight rebels in an operation against militants, a police commander said.

“We have cleared 85 villages of the Taliban. So far we have killed about eight enemies,” deputy provincial police chief, Abdul Rahman Aqtash told AFP. The operation was underway, he added, refusing to give more details.