Source Pravda.Ru

11 killed on Rice visit to Afghanistan

Rockets exploded in Afghanistan's capital on Wednesday and six soldiers and five aid workers were killed in attacks blamed on Taliban insurgents as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited for talks.

Taliban gunmen killed two doctors, two nurses and a driver working with an Afghan relief agency in the southern province of Kandahar as they returned from a visit to a village, a director of the agency said.

Before dawn, a rocket that exploded outside the Canadian ambassador's residence in Kabul wounded a guard, and a second rocket damaged a government building, according to Reuters.

Later in the day, six government troops were reported killed in a Taliban ambush in the central province of Uruzgan, the provincial governor said.

Rice, who arrived on Wednesday on a short stop on a tour of central Asia, played down the violence, the latest in a spate of militant attacks after September elections.

"The attacks after the elections are a clear indication of the frustration that exists (because) of the success in Afghanistan of the political process," she said after meeting President Hamid Karzai in his heavily fortified presidential palace.

The September elections went ahead despite Taliban pledges to disrupt them and presidential polls in October 2004 that gave U.S.-backed Karzai the country's top job.

Unlike on previous trips to the country, reporters accompanying Rice were compelled to wear bullet-proof vests and armed guards rode with them in buses from the airport to the presidential palace.

T.E.

Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election

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