- The Washington Times - Monday, August 30, 2004

From combined dispatches

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban warned yesterday of more deadly attacks in the run-up to Afghanistan’s first presidential election as the death toll from a weekend car bomb reached at least 10 persons.

Three Americans were among those killed in the blast targeting the offices of international security company Dyncorp, which provides bodyguards for Afghan President Hamid Karzai and helps train the national police force. Another blast on Saturday killed nine children and one adult at a religious school in Paktia province, south of Kabul.

Also on Sunday, Afghan troops captured five Taliban members in the southeastern city of Kandahar before they could carry out an attack on U.S.-led forces, said Khalid Pashtun, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

A Taliban commander said yesterday that any city with a Western presence could be a target ahead of the Oct. 9 elections.

“We have started our operations from Kabul under new planning and preparation,” said commander Mullah Daudullah, one of the 10 members of the Taliban council headed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, an ally of Osama bin Laden.

“We will carry out more attacks and bombings in Kabul, and many of our mujahideen are present in cities where the occupying forces of infidels are present,” he said by satellite telephone.

Investigators probing Sunday’s blast in Kabul, the biggest in nearly two years, questioned a man detained at Kabul airport yesterday with traces of explosives on his hands, officials said.

NATO troops grew suspicious of the man and turned him over to Afghan authorities after finding the explosives on his hands, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Ken Mackillop said.

“There is a suspicion against him, but for now there is no link or proof that he was involved in yesterday’s attack,” Interior Ministry spokesman Latfullah Mashal said.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul advised Americans to avoid military facilities, national and international government buildings, crowded places such as bazaars and restaurants, and Internet cafes frequented by foreigners.

Staff at international organizations also have been advised to keep a low profile and increase security.

Police and NATO troops prevented anyone from approaching the area around the Dyncorp office yesterday, while FBI officers based at the U.S. Embassy took charge of the investigation.

There were conflicting reports about the number of people killed in the attack, but hospitals said they were holding 10 bodies, making it the deadliest violence in Kabul since a car bomb killed 30 Afghans and wounded 150 on Sept. 5, 2002.

Cmdr. Mackillop said the bodies of three Americans and three Afghans were at the international force’s field hospital.

Two Nepalese and an American were being treated at the German-run facility in the capital, he said.

Four more bodies were at the Afghan National Army hospital, the only other facility in the capital with a morgue, said its head doctor, Gen. Mohammed Atiq Shamim. He said the bodies were difficult to identify and refused to speculate on their nationalities.

The Taliban denied responsibility for Saturday’s school blast, saying its guerrillas were targeting only military centers or election staff.

The motive might have been some extremist group’s anger at the modern curriculum taught in the school, where classes for women were held and funded by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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