AP, January 7, 2004

Twelve civilians killed by gunmen in southern Afghanistan

Kandahar: Gunmen killed 12 Afghan civilians on a road in southern Afghanistan, an official said on Wednesday.

The victims, all men, were attacked Tuesday evening near Baghran, a town in Helmand province some 410 km southwest of the capital, Kabul, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

Armed men stopped their two cars and opened fire, killing all 12 people on board, Mohammed Wali Alizai told The Associated Press.

It was not clear who carried out the attack. But Alizai said the victims were all ethnic Hazaras in an area that is predominantly Pashtun, and that nothing was stolen from them. He suggested that the assailants wanted to stir ethnic tension.

"They are terrorists," he said. "They want to create conflict between Hazaras and Pashtuns."

Alizai said the governor had sent hundreds of troops to the area to try to find those responsible.

Helmand and a string of provinces through Afghanistan's lawless south and east have seen a string of attacks on troops, aid workers and civilians working either with the Afghan government or foreign forces.

[RAWA Homepage] [More reports from Afghanistan] [RAWA Photo Gallery]