BBC reporter amongst 19 killed in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

A BBC journalist has been killed in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan, the corporation said today.

Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, who worked as a stringer in Urozgan province in the south of the country, died when the local radio and television offices were attacked.

Afghan security officials confirmed up to six suicide bombers stormed the provincial governor's compound and other government offices in the provincial capital, Tarin Kot, the BBC said.

Mr Khpulwak joined the corporation on May 1, 2008 as a stringer, a freelance journalist who contributes reports on an ongoing basis but is paid individually for each piece of work.

He was also working for Pajwak Afghan news agency, the BBC said.

Peter Horrocks, director of BBC Global News, said, "The sympathies of the BBC and all of his colleagues go to Ahmed Omed's family and friends.

"Only this morning he was reporting on BBC Pashto about another Taliban attack that happened last night. The BBC and the whole world are grateful to journalists like Ahmed Omed who courageously put their lives on the line to report from dangerous places."

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assaults in the provincial capital of Tarin Kot.

They targeted the governor's house, police headquarters and a third office used by Matiullah Khan, a powerbroker who runs a company that provides security for Nato supply convoys.

Afghan security forces rushed to the scene and Nato provided air support as fighting continued, said US Air Force Capt Justin Brockhoff.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said a total of six suicide bombers conducted the attacks.

Initial reports said seven explosions went off.

Hospital staff in Tarin Kot, said the 19 killed included 10 children, a policeman and two women, and 37 other people were wounded.

A Taliban spokesman called the AP to express sadness over the death of the journalist and accused pro-government forces of killing him.

"He was not our target," Ahmadi said. "We were fighting the headquarters of the police."

The attack in Tarin Kot came a day after a suicide bomber with explosives tucked inside his turban killed the Kandahar mayor, Ghulam Haider Hamidi.

In other violence today, a Nato service member was killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan, raising the total international death toll so far this month to 45.

Elsewhere in the south, an Afghan policeman and a civilian were killed when police were working to detonate roadside bombs in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.