KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban gunmen killed five Afghan employees of a relief agency in the southern province of Kandahar on Wednesday, a director of the agency said.
The employees of the Afghan Help Development Services (AHDS) were returning from a visit to a village when the attack took place in Zera district south of Kandahar city, said Abdul Qair, the agency”s director for Kandahar province.
"Five AHDS staff — two doctors, two nurses and one driver — lost their lives in the Taliban attack," he told reporters, adding two more employees, including a woman, were injured.
AHDS is a local medical aid group and is funded by Western donors. It has been involved in offering health services to remote villages, especially for women.
No Taliban official could immediately be reached for comment.
Rebels from the ousted Taliban regime have declared a holy war against aid workers as part of a campaign against U.S.-led foreign forces, the Afghan government and those supporting it.
Several dozen aid workers, including Westerners, have died in the Taliban-linked insurgency since U.S.-led troops overthrew the regime in 2001.
News of the attack came as President Hamid Karzai finished talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is on a one-day visit to Kabul as part of a Central Asia tour.
Four rockets hit various areas of Kabul hours before her arrival and at least one person, a guard at the residence of the Canadian ambassador, was hurt when one of the rockets landed outside the house.
Wednesday”s violence is part of increased attacks by the Taliban since September 18 parliamentary polls which the insurgents failed to derail despite vowing to do so.