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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August, 2005, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Gunmen kill nine in Afghanistan
Violence has been stepped up amid preparations for election
Militants in Afghanistan have killed at least eight members of the security forces and an election worker weeks before landmark parliamentary polls.

About 50 gunmen attacked a checkpoint killing four soldiers and four police in the province of Nuristan on Tuesday night, the interior ministry said.

Gunmen on a motorcycle also shot dead a poll worker in a separate incident in the southern province of Helmand.

He was the fifth election worker to die violently this year, officials say.

Four people were arrested after his death in the Helmand's Lashkar Gah district.

Reports say five civilians were also killed in a shooting on Monday in Laghman, in the east of Afghanistan.

Explosive finds

Coalition forces say they discovered three caches of munitions in southern and eastern Afghanistan on Monday.

The first was discovered near Bamian and consisted of 60 rocket-propelled grenades, 17 anti-tank missiles and 600 rounds of anti-aircraft gun ammunition.

They found another cache near Kabul and destroyed it at the scene. A third cache was discovered near Kandahar and consisted of an unusual amount of fertilizer and plastic explosives.

"These munitions are dangerous," said US Army Brig Gen Jack Sterling.

"Not only are they unstable but they can be used in the construction of improvised explosive devices."

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