Taliban storm Afghan court, kill five, after vowing revenge for executions

World Wednesday 01/June/2016 17:56 PM
By: Times News Service
Taliban storm Afghan court, kill five, after vowing revenge for executions

Kabul/Dushanbe: Taliban insurgents stormed a court in the Afghan city of Ghazni on Wednesday, clashing with police for at least an hour in an attack in which 10 people, including all five of the militants, were killed, police said.
The attack came days after the Taliban, who are fighting to topple the government of President Ashraf Ghani, vowed to seek revenge for the execution last month of six Taliban prisoners.
The raid began when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the court and four more attackers fought their way inside, sparking an hour-long battle with police, said city police chief Aminullah Amarkhil.
"Four civilian visitors and a policeman were killed in the attack but our forces were on high alert and shot dead the other bombers in no time," he said.
The court building in the city, 150km (100 miles) southwest of Kabul, was damaged, he said.
Spokesmen for the Taliban were not available for comment.
The militants had vowed revenge for the hanging on May 8 of six Taliban prisoners convicted of terrorism offences, as part of a tougher security policy in retaliation for an April suicide attack in Kabul in which 64 people were killed.
The Taliban have made considerable gains in various parts of the country since the departure of most foreign combat troops at the end of 2014, and both government forces and the militants have suffered heavy losses in fighting.
The United States killed the leader of the Taliban in a drone attack in southwest Pakistan on May 21 but the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour has had no discernable impact on the violence.
In another incident on Wednesday, a roadside bomb killed a top police administrator and wounded four policemen in the relatively peaceful northern province of Balkh, officials there said.
Meanwhile, Tajikistan has boosted troop numbers on its frontier with Afghanistan, the border guard service said on Wednesday, due to security threats from armed smugglers, kidnappers and insurgents.
Tajikistan, the poorest country in the former Soviet Union, is worried about militant groups based in conflict-ridden Afghanistan trying to open a new front in their war.
The border area is also a major route for narcotics from Afghanistan, the world's main producer of opium used to make heroin, into Central Asia and on to Russia and Europe.
To address the threats, Dushanbe has sent more troops to the border and set up dozens of new outposts, border guard service spokesman Muhammad Ulugkhodzhayev said.
The reinforcements include both professionally trained ensigns and newly drafted conscripts, he said. He declined to provide any absolute or relative numbers.
Separately, border guard commander Rajabali Rakhmonali told state-run newspaper Sadoi Mardum this week that Tajikistan was concerned about a potential spillover from the Afghan fighting.
"Strengthening confrontation between different militant groups, the emergence of terrorists belonging to the 'IS' group aggravate the situation, resulting in increased threats," he said.
The threat of violence spilling over into ex-Soviet central Asia has grown more acute since NATO pulled most of its forces from Afghanistan, leading to a deterioration in security there.
The risk was brought home by Taliban attacks on the Afghan city of Kunduz, not far from the Tajik border, first last year when attackers briefly seized the city and then again in April when the Taliban launched another offensive.