Taliban strike on Koreans confirmed

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Taliban strike on Koreans confirmed

Amid suspicions that the Taliban was behind a recent rocket attack on a Korean military base in Afghanistan, Seoul confirmed yesterday that an armed attack on a Korean company in the country in December was linked to the Islamic group.

“We discovered that an attack by gunmen on the construction site of a Korean company in December was committed by a local group linked to the Taliban,” said an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, citing intelligence received from the Afghan government.

The official said the attack, however, was motivated by money, not by political purposes, and downplayed the Taliban’s role.

In December, armed men stormed a Korean firm’s construction site in Balkh Province, northern Afghanistan, leaving one Bangladeshi worker dead and seven others missing.

Nine Korean workers at the site were unharmed, but the company later moved them out of the country for safety reasons.

Last Tuesday evening Afghan time, five rounds of rocket-propelled grenades pounded a newly built Korean military base in Parwan Province, northern Afghanistan, which housed hundreds of members of Korea’s provincial reconstruction team and civilian aid workers.

No one was injured in the attack, but it came hours after a visit by Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, raising suspicions of Taliban involvement. Kim played down any connection between the attack and his visit.

The opening ceremony of the base, slated for next Monday, has been postponed indefinitely.

The northern areas of Afghanistan are considered relatively safe, but some government officials are now worrying that the Taliban could pose a threat to the security of Koreans in the region.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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