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Afghan Violence Kills Nine; Further Attacks Feared

25 September 2004 -- An Afghan official says insurgents launched a string of attacks on three security posts in southern Afghanistan today, killing nine soldiers, while a U.S. military spokesman warned of more violence aimed at disrupting elections.

Mohammad Wali, spokesman for the governor of Helmand Province, said an unspecified number of gunmen launched raids on the security posts, located along a road between Girishk in the southern Helmand Province and Delawar in the western province of Farah.

He said three soldiers were killed in the first attack, six in the second and there were no casualties in the third.

Wali blamed the "enemies of Afghanistan," a phrase often used to describe remnants of the ousted Taliban militia, which has been accused of launching a wave of violence that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the past year.

The head of the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan said today that the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban is stepping up plans to disrupt the first round of the presidential election on 9 October.

U.S. Army Lieutenant-General David Barno told a news conference in Kabul that disrupting the elections is the only option for terrorists in the region. He claimed the insurgency is being waged by a "tiny minority."

A German Defense Ministry spokesman said today the German military is planning to build a new camp south of Kabul to boost security ahead of Afghanistan's general elections, which are set for early 2005.

More than 17,000 U.S. and allied troops are stationed in Afghanistan to stabilize the country after a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001 and to fight an insurgency waged by elements of the ousted Taliban regime.