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Gunmen kill 12 minority Hazaras in Afghanistan

7 January 2004

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Unidentified gunmen killed 12 ethnic minority Hazaras in southern Afghanistan in the latest spate of violence in the volatile region, an official said on Wednesday.

The Hazaras were travelling in a vehicle when they came under attack in Baghran district of Helmand province on Tuesday night, said Haji Mohammad Wali, spokesman for the province's governor.

All together there were 13 Hazara people in the car when the attack happened. Twelve people died on the spot and only one of them survived the incident, Wali told Reuters.

The victims were residents of neighbouring Uruzgan province, where tension has reportedly erupted recently between some Hazaras and ethnic Pashtuns, the largest clan of Afghanistan.

The incident took place on the same day that a bomb went off in Kandahar, the main city in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 50 others.

Remnants of the Taliban, toppled more than two years ago by US-led forces, have claimed responsibility for the blast in Kandahar, the militiaƂ's former stronghold.

More than 450 people including militants, civilians, aid workers, Afghan troops and more than a dozen US-led soldiers have been killed since August, mainly in the southern and eastern areas.

The violence is the worst since the fall of the Taliban.

It comes despite the presence of 12,000 US-led troops in Afghanistan hunting fugitives from the Taliban, al Qaeda and followers of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of an Islamic party who has declared a holy war against foreign forces in Afghanistan.







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