- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Agence France-Presse) — Dozens of Taliban militants attacked a U.S.-funded mine-clearing team in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing three mine removers, three guards and one female passer-by, police said.

The attack on the mine-clearing team working for the Washington, D.C.-based RONCO Consulting Corp. in western Farah province was the latest in a wave of violence blamed on Taliban insurgents, police said.

“The Taliban attacked a demining team. Three deminers and three guards supporting them were killed,” police spokesman Saydo Jan said. “One Afghan woman nearby was also killed in the shootout,” he said.

Five other persons nearby, including three women, were wounded in the attack in the province’s Bakwa district, the police official said, blaming the attack on Taliban militants active in the area.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s most mined countries, the result of years of war and insurgency.

The crew was traveling to the western city of Herat from Taliban-dominated Kandahar when it came under attack.

In a separate incident yesterday, U.S. warplanes bombed a Taliban hide-out, killing five militants in Zabul province.

“The combined force used coalition close air support to drop munitions on the Taliban position. Secondary explosions killed the five Taliban fighters,” the U.S. military said.

The Taliban, despite being ousted from power five years ago, is still able to carry out attacks. As part of its destabilization campaign, it has been attacking Afghan and foreign troops as well as aid workers and journalists.

The rebels kidnapped two French aid workers along with their three Afghan assistants in neighboring Nimroz on Tuesday. The rebels were still holding the hostages yesterday.

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