Kabul: A Taliban commander who planned
rocket attacks on polling stations during elections next week
and four other insurgents were killed in eastern Afghanistan,
NATO said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Afghans rallied for a third day
today to protest a plan by an American pastor to burn copies
of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, despite his decision to
call off the action that infuriated Muslims around the world.
Three people were injured today as police opened fire
on protesters who were trying to storm local government
headquarters in Baraki Barak district in the eastern Logar
province, district chief Mohammad Rahim Amin said. Throughout
the country, many of the recent demonstrations against the
proposed burning targeted the pro-Western Afghan government.
"I can say for sure that this was the work of the
enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan who are trying
to use any opportunity to disrupt the security situation" in
the country, Amin said.
The protesters, chanting "Death to America", burned
tires, attacked several shops and set election candidates`
posters on fire, he said.
NATO said the military alliance and Afghan forces
killed the five insurgents last night in a village compound in
the eastern Nangarhar province. The insurgents were killed
after they "displayed hostile intent" as the forces moved in
on the compound, it said in a statement.
It said intelligence reports indicated the Taliban
commander was planning to conduct rocket attacks on voting
centres during the September 18 parliamentary elections. The
Taliban has vowed to target polling stations and warned
Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.
The government and its Western allies hope the
elections for the lower house of parliament will help
consolidate the country`s fragile democracy, leading to the
withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 NATO-led foreign troops in
the country. But many Afghans and foreign observers fear the
vote could turn bloody if the Taliban carries out its threats.
"The Afghan people deserve to cast their votes without
fear of attacks from the insurgent groups," US Army Col Rafael
Torres said in the NATO statement. "We are tracking them and
taking action before they`re able to carry out their plans."
NATO said the killed Taliban commander had
participated in "intimidation campaigns and assassinations"
and was directly linked to a February suicide bomb attack that
killed Haji Zaman, a well-known tribal elder and warlord in