South African and Briton DHL Staff Killed in the Afghanistan

A Briton and a South African working for international courier company DHL were killed along with an Afghan guard in a shoot out in Afghanistan's capital Kabul Saturday, officials said.

It was the second fatal shooting involving the international community in the city in five days with a dual national British-South African aid worker gunned down Monday in a killing claimed by the insurgent Taliban.

Separately on Saturday, two Turks and two Bangladeshis were reported kidnapped elsewhere in Afghanistan, which this year has seen a spiral in violence blamed on increasing insurgent attacks and crime.

It was unclear what prompted Saturday's exchange of fire outside the DHL offices, but one senior police official said an argument had erupted between the foreigners and some Afghans and it was not a Taliban attack.

"Two foreigners and one Afghan have been killed," said Kabul deputy police chief Alishah Ahmadzai. Two people were also wounded, he said, without giving their identities.

The British and South African governments said later they were a Briton and a South African.

They worked for DHL, said a spokesman in Berlin for the German post office, which owns the shipping group. Afghan police said they were the Kabul director and deputy director of the company.

One of them was shot dead in the front passenger seat of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, said an AFP reporter who saw his body slumped in the seat. The front side window was shattered and the cabin spattered with blood.

The other was in the back seat, according to a policeman. The vehicle was covered with a plastic sheet so witnesses could not see inside.

The Afghan appeared to have been shot outside the vehicle, where blood was pooled. He was a guard, a police witness said.

Several people were detained afterwards for questioning, police said.

The killing comes after 34-year-old aid worker Gayle Williams was shot dead Monday while she was walking to work at the SERVE Afghanistan aid organisation.

The Islamist Taliban claimed she was killed because SERVE was "preaching Christianity," a charge rejected by the group which works to help disabled Afghans.

"That is simply not true," SERVE Afghanistan spokeswoman Rina van der Ende reiterated at an emotional press conference in Kabul attended by Williams' mother and sister ahead of her funeral here Sunday.

"There is still no clue why Gayle was murdered," she said.

Authorities have not confirmed that the assassination was carried out by the Taliban.

Security has plummeted in the country this year, with insurgent attacks and crime both surging as foreign troops fight to stem the Taliban-led insurgency.

In other incidents, two Turkish nationals were kidnapped in the eastern province of Khost along with their Afghan driver and translator, provincial governor Arsala Jamal said Saturday.

The men had been contracted to erect a radio mast, Jamal said. There had been no contact from the abductors, who were unknown, he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, which has carried out several kidnappings for ransom or to put political pressure on the authorities, said the militia was not responsible and blamed bandits.

The visiting Turkish foreign minister, Ali Babacan, said he had expressed his concerns about the abduction of his countrymen during a meeting with his Afghan counterpart in Kabul Saturday.

In Dhaka, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) said two of its Bangladeshi staff were kidnapped in the central province of Ghazni on Friday.

"We don't know who abducted them and where they have been taken," said Mahbub Hossain, BRAC executive director.

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