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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 April, 2004, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Seven shot dead in Afghan attack
By Andrew North
BBC correspondent in Kabul

Police carry out a search in Paktika
The Paktika area is renowned for being isolated
Seven people, including government employees, have been shot dead in south-eastern Afghanistan by suspected Taleban militants.

Local security officials said it was an execution-style killing and that a woman and child are among the dead.

They were killed after their car was stopped near the Pakistan border in Paktika province south-east of Kabul.

There have been frequent attacks in the province over the last year and Kabul's authority in parts is tenuous.

'Shot on the spot'

The seven dead were all from the same family, according to the regional military Commander, Mohammed Hussain, and at least three of them were local government officials.

He told the BBC that suspected Taleban gunmen held up their car in Birmal district in Paktika province.

The gunmen demanded to know if they backed President Hamid Karzai, and when they replied that they did, all except one woman member were shot on the spot.

The Paktika governor has admitted he does not control Birmal.

The area is so isolated that it has taken several days for news of the shooting - which happened on Monday - to emerge.

They were asked if they supported President Hamid Karzai and his government, and when they said yes they were killed on the spot
Regional Commander Mohammed Hassain

Security officials say the Taleban retain significant support in the area, and often travel back and forth from the neighbouring Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan.

Pakistani forces were recently involved in heavy fighting in South Waziristan against suspected members of al-Qaeda.

Earlier on Wednesday a roadside bomb wounded a senior police officer and three Afghan soldiers in the southern city of Kandahar.

The blast happened near a US military base, and officials are again blaming members of the Taleban.

People claiming to speak for the Taleban have called for a holy war against President Hamid Karzai and his American allies.

Another group, Hizb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, led by former Mujahideen Commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar has made similar statements.

He has called on his supporters to follow the example of Iraqis resisting American troops.

On Tuesday, officials with the international peacekeeping force in Kabul said they had helped arrest one of the group's commanders, although they have refused to give more details.

There are fears of increased attacks in the run-up to elections planned for September.



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