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Middle East

Eight Afghan labourers killed on way to US base

Attacks come as Taliban steps up intimidation campaign in Ramadan

Eight Afghan civilians on their way to work at a US base have been executed by insurgents in Afghanistan, local officials said.

The day labourers were in a van just after dawn on Thursday morning in the city of Pol-e-Alam just south of Kabul, when they were stopped, ordered to get out of the vehicle, and shot. Their driver was spared.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is thought to be part of the Taliban’s campaign of intimidation, aimed at discouraging Afghans from working for the government or Nato forces.

Provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh said the men killed were day workers, not members of the base’s local staff. Police said they were in their late teens and early 20s. Aljazeera reported that the men were found “with their eyes blindfolded”.

Pol-e-Alam is the capital of the Logar province, a stronghold for the Taliban near the border with Pakistan. The attack was nonetheless believed to be the first of its kind so close to Kabul.

It was also the worst incident of civilian casualties in the country since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Taliban have said they plan to continue their attacks during the traditional period of fasting, and it comes as insurgents step up efforts up and down the country, targeting Afghan forces after they took over responsibility for national security.