- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two German journalists who had pitched a tent on the side of a road outside a northern Afghan village were killed by gunmen yesterday, the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The freelance journalists conducting research for a documentary were the first foreign reporters killed in Afghanistan since late 2001, when eight journalists died.

A NATO soldier, meanwhile, was killed by militants who detonated a roadside bomb and fired on a military patrol in southern Afghanistan. A suicide car bomber targeted a U.S. patrol in eastern Afghanistan but caused no casualties.

The journalists were killed on the fifth anniversary of the Oct. 7, 2001, invasion by U.S.-led troops to oust the Taliban for hosting Osama bin Laden. Western forces and Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance quickly routed the Islamist regime.

But the militant fighters who once appeared soundly defeated have returned with a vengeance, taking control of large swaths of countryside in the past year. Taliban fighters have stepped up the use of roadside and suicide bombs, and more than 3,000 people have been killed this year, mostly militants battling Western forces.

About 40,000 U.S. and NATO troops are now in Afghanistan, 2 times the number of three years ago.

The slain journalists — identified as Karen Fischer, 30, and Christian Struwe, 38 — worked as freelancers for Deutsche Welle, Germany’s state-owned broadcast outlet.

The two were traveling through the northern province of Baghlan, about 100 miles northwest of Kabul, and had stopped outside a small village, where they set up a tent to spend the night, said Mohammad Azim Hashami, the provincial police chief.

They were killed by AK-47 gunfire about 1:30 a.m., he said.

Chief Hashami said nothing was stolen from the journalists, including their vehicle. Police had no suspects.

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