Official: 5 security forces killed in Afghanistan ambush

  • As Thai military hospital bomb blast injures more than 20

Insurgents in northern Afghanistan ambushed a security convoy on Monday, killing five members of the local police, an official said.

Karim Yuresh, spokesman for the provincial police chief in Faryab, said a group commander and four of his bodyguards were killed. The commander, identified only as Sadat, and his men were on their way to a funeral in Kohistanat district when the attack happened, Yuresh said. He added that the ambush triggered a shootout that also killed and wounded an unspecified number of insurgents.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack in Faryab, but both the Taliban and militants from an Islamic State affiliate are active in the province and have lately stepped up attacks on Afghan security forces, government officials and pro-government figures.

In eastern Logar province, gunmen shot and killed a deputy chief of a provincial clerical council, said Gen. Esmatullah Alizia, the Logar police chief. Mawlavi Abdul Ghafor was killed near the provincial capital, Puli Alam, while on his way to a mosque for morning prayers, said Alizia.

No group claimed responsibility for the Logar attack.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said that an airstrike late on Sunday night killed a Taliban district official in the insurgents’ shadow government, Dost Mohammad, along with seven other Taliban figures. Four other insurgents were wounded, Monday’s statement added. Mohammad had been appointed the Taliban shadow district chief of Qala-e-Zal.

There was no comment from the Taliban, who captured the district of Qala-e-Zal two weeks ago, only to have Afghan forces regain control following a counter-offensive.

In the meantime, more than 20 people have been injured in a small bomb blast at a military hospital in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

The explosion happened at Phramongkutklao Hospital, which is used by serving and retired members of the military and their families.

It took place on the third anniversary of the 2014 coup which brought the military government to power.

Police said it was not clear who was behind the blast, which happened in a waiting room by a pharmacy.

“We found pieces of a circuit and a battery, as well as some wires. We’ll investigate further but initially we found the explosive had a range of 2-3 metres,” the Bangkok Post quoted Deputy National Police Chief General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul as saying.

Officials said most people had minor wounds from flying glass.

“Eight people were admitted to hospital to observe their condition… among them is one woman who needed surgery because of shrapnel buried in her jaw,” AFP quoted hospital director Saroj Keokajee as saying.

Thai newspaper The Nation said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha had ordered an immediate investigation into the attack at the hospital, which also treats civilians.

Three years after the armed forces seized power in Thailand, they rule almost unchallenged; the few who have dared oppose the government openly have been detained and charged.

But there have been occasional small bombs, presumed to be in protest against the military. One went off last week close to the royal palace, where preparations are still under way for the elaborate cremation of the late King Bhumibol, who died last October.

The military has succeeded in maintaining order and stability through a sensitive royal succession; but it has done little to address the political divisions underlying the conflicts which preceded the coup.

Three years ago to the day the military ousted an elected government following months of street protests.

Since then, Thailand’s military leaders have clamped down on critics, political opponents and free speech.

An election is due by the end of next year. It will be held under a new military-drafted constitution that critics claim only allows for a partial, guided democracy.

Thailand has faced a power struggle since Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted by the military as prime minister in 2006.

He and his sister (who led the government ousted in 2014) have strong support in rural areas, but they are hated by a military-backed urban elite who accuse them of corruption.

 Abc with additional report from BBC