KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – A suicide bomber struck a road construction crew Saturday in southwestern Afghanistan, killing two Indian engineers and their Afghan driver, while erosion has exposed bodies from a Taliban-era mass grave, officials said.
In other violence, 24 Taliban militants died in clashes with Afghan and foreign troops in southern Afghanistan. The insurgents were believed to be responsible for another attack on a road-building project days earlier.
Saturday’s suicide attack on an Indian construction crew in the southwestern province of Nimroz wounded eight people, including five Indian workers and two civilians, said Gov. Ghulam Dastagir. The bomber approached the construction site on foot, he said.
“(The Taliban) are conducting these suicide attacks and terrorist attacks to stop the development and reconstruction in Afghanistan,” Dastagir said.
The Indian Foreign Ministry identified the two dead engineers as M. P. Singh and C. Govindaswamy, both from its Border Roads Organization.
Suicide attacks have been on the rise in Afghanistan, with the Taliban launching more than 140 such missions last year, the highest number since the radical Islamist group was ousted from power by a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
Militants often target work crews in roadside bomb attacks, ambushes and kidnappings, killing and wounding dozens of workers and their private security guards.
In the northern province of Balkh, about six bodies from a Taliban-era mass grave have been exposed by weather and erosion, prompting officials to ask the central government what should be done, said Sher Jan Durani, spokesman for the provincial police chief. The grave contains more than 100 bodies of both soldiers and civilians that were buried by locals after Taliban militants stormed the city in the late 1990s and killed dozens of people, said Durani.
On Friday in southern Zabul province, Afghan and foreign troops clashed and called in airstrikes on militants, leaving 24 militants dead and eight others wounded, said Deputy Governor Ghulab Shah Alikheil. The joint forces conducted the operations in two separate mountainous areas of Zabul, Alikheil said. There were no casualties among Afghan and foreign troops, he said.
The operation was aimed at militants responsible for Tuesday’s ambush on a road construction crew in the province. The attack killed 17 people and wounded 16 others, Alikheil said.
Road-building is a key part of Afghan reconstruction and many projects are in remote, insurgency-plagued areas. The U.N. says more than 8,000 people were killed in insurgency-related violence in 2007.