Five health workers kidnapped in Afghanistan

Gunmen kidnapped five Health Ministry employees in the volatile Kandahar.

Kabul: Gunmen kidnapped five Health Ministry employees in the volatile southern Afghan province of Kandahar while police elsewhere said they had killed a Taliban commander, officials said on Thursday.

Bombings, gunbattles, assassinations and abductions have been increasing this year as thousands of American troops partnered with Afghan forces fan out in the insurgents` southern strongholds to try to wrest back control and establish effective local government.

Members of a medical team were abducted while returning to Kandahar city, the provincial capital, after visiting a project in Maiwand district, provincial spokesman Zulmi Ayubi said on Thursday.

The gunmen forced the car to stop about a mile (two kilometres) outside Maiwand and abducted two doctors, a pharmacist, a nurse and their driver, Ayubi said. The Health Ministry issued a statement calling for their release.

The kidnappers were not identified, but Taliban insurgents have been on spree of assassinations and abductions of government workers. The campaign of fear is especially intense in Kandahar, where Afghan and international forces have been increasing their presence, with the apparent message that the militants can still operate in their traditional stronghold.

Kandahar is the spiritual birthplaces of the Taliban, who follow an extreme form of Islam that they imposed on Afghanistan during their five years in power before their regime was toppled by US-backed forces for sheltering al Qaeda terrorist leaders.

In neighbouring Uruzgan province, police said they had killed a local Taliban commander, identified as Mullah Dawood, in a gunbattle.

A routine police patrol discovered the insurgents in a village in Tarin Kot district and started fighting, according to Gulab Khan, the deputy police chief. He said five insurgents, including the commander and a bomb-maker, died and the police suffered no casualties.

Taliban spokesmen could not be reached for comment.

Bureau Report

New Delhi: Sports Minister M S Gill inaugurated the Rugby Stadium at the Delhi University campus, one of the Commonwealth Games venues, and admitted maintaining the magnificent structures after the October 3-14 showpiece event here is going to be a big "challenge".

"I am happy to inaugurate this beautiful venue where the Rugby 7s discipline will be held during Commonwealth Games. It is really good that such a sprawling complex has come up in the University campus within two years time," Gill said.

"But I think, its a challenge to maintain the facilities those are coming up for the Delhi Games. It is one of the main challenge before organisers of big international events all around the world and so to India," Gill told reporters.

However, Gill assured that a proper strategy for the same will be formulated soon.

"Different ideas regarding that are currently being explored. Whatever we do, will do for all," Gill said.

The state-of-the-art sports complex, which has come up at a cost of Rs 306.41 crore provided by Union Sports Ministry, will also be a training venue for netball, boxing, women`s wrestling and athletics during the Games.
The fully air-conditioned stadium structure has a total build-up area of 10,000 square kilometer, while the main ground boasts of features like auto-sprinkling technology, underground drainage system and natural grass, seeds of which have been imported from the USA.

Ten thousand spectators can enjoy the actions with permanent seating arrangement for 2,500 while the temporary arrangements will be made for another 7,500.

Besides, the environment friendly features of the complex include ozone system for air-freshening and latest less power consuming air-conditioning system.

Gill, after taking a round of the venue, also hoped such facilities will inculcate sporting culture among the students.
"Around 40-45 per cent of Indian population is young. We have to inculcate sporting culture among them if the country wants to move ahead in the new millennium. I hope such facility will help the cause. It`s a gift to the DU," Gill said.

"Besides giving facilities, the sportspersons should also be encouraged with other means like quota in all educational institutions or some scholarship programmes can also be launched for them," the Minister added.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, also an alumni of the University, hoped that the facility will be a "great legacy" for the institution.

"I expect that the facility will drive more and more students to come to the sports arena," she said.

Among others, Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental was present on the occasion.


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