Afghanistan Arrests Two Suspects in Chinese Worker Shootings



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Authorities in Afghanistan have arrested two suspects in connection with the killings earlier this week of 11 Chinese construction workers in the north of the country, RFA reports.

"We have taken two attackers into custody so far and we are hopeful of arresting their three accomplices soon," Kunduz military commander General Mohammad Daud told official Chinese media.

But he added: "The culprits possibly targeted the workers' compound from neighboring Baghlan Province."

Eleven Chinese workers were shot dead in their sleep, and a further five injured when around 20 armed men stormed a dormitory compound in Kunduz Province, 250 kms (150 miles) north of Kabul, and opened fire with automatic weapons, the Chinese Embassy said Thursday. One Afghan national also died.

It was the second attack in which foreigners were killed in a week in northern Afghanistan, which has until now been relatively peaceful compared with the violence-wracked south of the country.

On June 2, three Europeans working for Medecins Sans Frontieres and their two local assistants were shot dead on a road in the northwest province of Badghis.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the shootings as the work of "enemies of Afghanistan who want to derail the process of national reconstruction."

"On behalf of the people and government of Afghanistan, I would like to present my deepest condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, the Chinese people, and government," Karzai said in a statement Friday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, on a state visit to Poland, condemned the attacks Thursday, which the Afghan government blamed on "terrorists" linked to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. However, the Taliban has since denied any involvement in the killings.

Hu called on the Afghan government and the United Nations mission in the country to investigate the incident and bring the terrorists to justice, and to ensure the safety and security of other Chinese citizens in Afghanistan.

The workers were employed by the China Railway Shisiju Group, based in the eastern province of Shandong, which said it was preparing emergency teams to send to Afghanistan to help with the identification of victims and liaison with their families.

Under a contract signed between Beijing and Kabul last October, the group sent an engineering team of 61 Chinese to Afghanistan to reconstruct the Kunduz Highway.

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