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2 foreigners shot dead in Afghanistan

A private guard working for an international shipping company fatally shot two executives Saturday before turning the gun on himself, officials said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A private guard working for an international shipping company fatally shot two executives Saturday before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

The shootings took place in front of the DHL office in downtown Kabul. The company's country director and his deputy — one Briton and one South African — were killed, the British Foreign Office and South African government said.

The British Foreign Office identified the Briton as David Giles. It did not have further details.

A preliminary investigation found that one of the Afghan security guards protecting the DHL compound opened fire on the car carrying the two victims when it pulled into the company headquarters, said Mirza Mohammad Yarmal, the Interior Ministry official in charge of criminal investigations.

The guard then put the barrel of his Kalishnikov rifle to his head and killed himself, Yarmal said.

Blood was splattered over the vehicle's windshield and pooled on the ground in front of DHL headquarters.

Yarmal said the guard had been hired only about a month ago from an area north of Kabul where Pashtuns — the ethnic group the Taliban draws its fighters from — lives. But he said police had no conclusive evidence linking the guard to the insurgent militia.

A Taliban spokesman denied that the militia was involved in the attack.

Afghan officials say the circumstances surrounding the incident are not yet clear. Police took into custody 13 people after the shooting, including DHL guards and employees, said Zemeri Bashary, the Interior Ministry spokesman.

DHL's headquarters are located across the street from the Iranian Embassy and close to Afghanistan's intelligence service. The area is considered a relatively secure part of the city.

Gerold Beck, a DHL spokesman at its headquarters in Bonn, Germany, said the company was working with authorities to "clarify the situation." He declined to comment further.

Violence against Westerners
The attack follows the slaying in Kabul of a dual South African-British citizen aid worker, Gayle Williams, 34, by gunmen earlier in the week. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for that shooting, saying the woman had been proselytizing.

Williams helped disabled Afghans with the group SERVE — Serving Emergency Relief and Vocational Enterprises — which has since suspended operations in Afghanistan. Her mother and sister appeared at a brief news conference in Kabul on Saturday ahead of a funeral planned for Sunday.

"If Gayle could talk with us now her view would not have changed," sister Karen Williams said. "Her faith in the Afghan people would remain the same. I know Gayle would forgive those responsible for this act and would tell us not to hold a grudge against them. We also forgive them, just as Gayle would have done."

Security has deteriorated around Afghanistan in the last two years, although violence against Westerners in the capital has been relatively rare until recent weeks.

But the security mood in Kabul has soured dramatically following a rash of kidnappings and security warnings.

Kidnappings investigated
International security companies on Saturday warned their clients in Kabul about intelligence indicating that militants were planning a large-scale attack on a restaurant frequented by Westerners.

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister confirmed that three Turkish nationals working on a communications project were kidnapped in the eastern province of Khost on Thursday.

Speaking at a joint news conference in Kabul with visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said officials believe the three were abducted by a criminal gang. Afghan intelligence officials and the provincial governor were working to resolve the issue, Spanta said.

In the southern province of Ghazni, governor's spokesman Ismail Jahangir said two aid workers from Bangladesh were kidnapped Thursday.