Attacks in Afghanistan kill 3 Turks, 3 Afghans

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Associated Press

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 12:32 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 2 at 5:04 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A motorcycle bomb targeted a minibus with workers from a Turkish construction company in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing three Turkish engineers, officials said.

Also on Monday, a group of Taliban suicide bombers attacked a government compound in southern Helmand province, killing three Afghans — two policemen and a civilian.

The attacks came as the Taliban have intensified their spring offensive in a bid to undermine the Western-backed government as foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.

The attack on the Turkish workers came early in the morning in eastern Nangharhar province's district of Behsud, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Three Turkish engineers were killed and a fourth was wounded in the explosion, Abdulzai said. The Turks were working on a construction project in Behsud and were on their way to work when the bombing took place.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The Afghan Interior Ministry said the explosives were strapped to a motorcycle, which was remotely detonated as the minibus drove by.

In Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry confirmed the casualties and said the Turks were employees of the EMTA construction company.

Turkish contracting companies have undertaken hundreds of construction projects in Afghanistan and at least four Turkish road engineers have been killed in attacks since 2004, not including Monday's deaths.

Last year, eight Turks were kidnapped, along with their Afghan translator and pilots from Russia and Kyrgyzstan after their helicopter made an emergency landing in bad weather in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar. They were released a month later. Another Turkish engineer was kidnapped and released in 2011.

Turkey, which shares religious, historic and cultural ties with Afghanistan, is involved in NATO operations there but has refused to take on any combat missions in the country, fearing a Muslim backlash. Its troops are instead involved in providing security, in reconstruction and training in Afghanistan.

Also, Turkey has been hosting talks between the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2007.

In the Helmand attack, an Afghan official said four Taliban bombers targeted the district governor's compound, killing two policemen and a government employee. One bomber blew himself up at the gates of the compound while the other three attackers stormed inside, only to be shot and killed by other policemen.

The attack took place in the district of Ghreshk, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor. Two policemen and two civilians working at the compound were also wounded in the attack, Zwak added.

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Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara.

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