Key Karzai adviser killed by suicide attackers in Kabul

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 17, 2011 

KABUL, Afghanistan — On the day that NATO began handing off control over security to Afghan authorities, a key aide to President Hamid Karzai was killed by suicide attackers and NATO troops and Afghan forces killed as many as 13 Taliban fighters during a gunbattle in eastern Afghanistan.

The Karzai adviser, Jan Mohammed Khan, the former governor of Uruzgan province, was killed along with three bodyguards and a member of parliament from Uruzgan, Hashim Watanwal, in an attack on Khan's home in western Kabul, said Gen. Mohammed Zahir, head of the Kabul police criminal investigation unit. Other reports said that two of the Taliban insurgents were killed, while a third continued battling police.

The attack on Kahn's home came just days after the assassination of Karzai's half brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, by one of his own bodyguards at his home in Kandahar.

Earlier Sunday, in eastern Afghanistan province of Ningrahar, NATO troops and Afghan security forces killed as many as 13 Taliban fighters in an hours-long battle that ended with an airstrike by a NATO helicopter gunship, Afghan and coalition officials said.

A statement by the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force said NATO and Afghan forces had targeted a Taliban leader in the area who was using a school building as a staging area.

An unknown number of Taliban fighters equipped with suicide bomb vests, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and AK-47s had occupied the empty school building, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai a provincial spokesman.

The school was empty because of the summer break and there were no civilian casualties, Abdulzai said.

The NATO and Afghan troops came under heavy fire from the Taliban fighters, the ISAF statement said. After several attempts to clear the building were resisted, an airstrike was called in. The helicopter gunship destroyed the building.

Also Sunday,NATO forces handed over the security of mostly peaceful Bamiyan, one of the seven provinces chosen for the first phase of the security transition, to the Afghan national police.

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