Monday, 30 May 2011

NATO Team Attacked In Afghanistan

At least five people were killed and about 30 wounded after twin bomb blasts struck the Afghan city of Herat.

The fatalities occurred after a roadside bomb in the centre of the city, which is not far from the western border with Iran.

In the second assault, a suicide bomber attacked the Nato-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) base on the outskirts of the city.

The Taliban recently declared a "spring offensive" of attacks in Afghanistan.

'Several attackers'

An Afghan intelligence official in Herat said the first attack was a "powerful" bomb blast.

"It happened at a busy place at a busy time. The windows of nearby buildings were broken. I was nearby when the explosion took place," he said.

Witnesses at the scene of the PRT base said gunshots could still be heard. It is not yet clear if there are more casualties.

At least two suicide bombers were said to have attacked the compound, while a number of insurgents tried to get inside.

''The attack on the PRT is still going on. We know there are several attackers. Helicopters are hovering overhead," a senior police official told in an interview.

He said shops had been closed and that police and army officers had been deployed across the city.

PRTs are typically joint military and civilian operations designed to help build up Afghan government capacity in a province. There are 28 of them across Afghanistan.

Most foreign reporters says Herat - a relatively peaceful city - is due to be soon handed to Afghan control, and so the attack is quite significant.

Earlier, Nato generals in Afghanistan apologised after civilians were killed in an air strike on Sunday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai had criticised the coalition for the attack, which killed nine people.