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35 Killed in Afghan Road Construction Attack


A casket containing the body of one of the Afghans, who were killed by insurgents attack in Waza-e Zadran of Paktia, in Gardez, Paktia, Afghanistan, May 19, 2011

A casket containing the body of one of the Afghans, who were killed by insurgents attack in Waza-e Zadran of Paktia, in Gardez, Paktia, Afghanistan, May 19, 2011

Afghan officials say militants have attacked a road construction site in eastern Afghanistan, killing 35 workers and guards.

The attack took place overnight in Paktia province. At least 20 people were wounded when dozens of militants launched their assault in the Waza-e Zadran district, near Pakistan's border.

Afghan officials say eight militants were also killed in the ensuing gunbattle with security guards, which lasted at least two hours.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the head of the Afghan construction company, Noorullah Bidar, blamed the Taliban. He said the assailants also destroyed a number of construction vehicles and other equipment.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying militants do not want to see development in Afghanistan. NATO also condemned the attack.

Meanwhile, the United Nations urged restraint in northern Afghanistan where fresh protests broke out in Takhar province against the killing of four people in a joint NATO-Afghan raid earlier this week.

NATO says the two men and two women killed in the operation were armed insurgents who tried to fire on them. Demonstrators and Afghan officials say the dead were civilians.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan on Thursday called on all parties to remain calm and take the necessary measures to protect civilians, a day after it said 14 people were killed in demonstrations against the coalition operation in the provincial capital, Taloqan.

On Wednesday, authorities said more than 2,000 demonstrators clashed with police and shouted slogans against the U.S. and Afghan governments.

Several hundred people again took to the streets of Taloqan on Thursday, with some setting fires outside police headquarters.

Police reportedly fired shots in the air to disperse the crowd. At least three people were wounded in the new demonstrations.

In the east, France's defense ministry says an accidental explosion killed one of its soldiers in Kapisa province. The ministry says Wednesday's blast occurred as the soldier and others in the same unit were preparing to board an armored vehicle.

In the northwest, NATO said Wednesday that a three-day joint operation that began May 13 killed more than 60 insurgents near Ghuchghar in Faryab province.

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