By Elyas Wahdat
KHOST, Afghanistan, May 19 (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents
killed 35 construction workers and wounded 24 in an attack in
volatile southeastern Afghanistan, provincial officials said on
Thursday, adding 10 insurgents had also been killed.
Thirteen workers were still missing after the assault, which
took place late on Wednesday in Paktia province's Zadran
district, government official Abdullah Durani told Reuters in
neighbouring Khost province.
Afghan forces have begun a search for the missing workers,
said Rohullah Samon, spokesman for Paktia province.
The Taliban confirmed its fighters had killed "many workers"
belonging to the firm in a gunfight, but denied it took any
hostages, said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Despite the presence of up to 150,000 foreign troops,
violence across Afghanistan is at its worst since the 2001
overthrow of the Taliban government by U.S.-backed Afghan
forces, and last year saw record casualties on both sides.
Construction crews and others working on infrastructure
projects are frequently targeted by insurgents. The Taliban
claimed responsibility for an attack in March when three suicide
bombers killed 24 construction workers in Paktika, a province
considered a hotbed of the insurgency.
The Taliban last month announced the start of a long-awaited
"spring offensive", vowing to carry out attacks, including
suicide bombings on foreign and Afghan troops and government
officials in the tenth year of an increasingly unpopular war.
(Writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Paul Tait and Daniel
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