The military commander of northeastern Afghanistan said a new terrorist network of 14 gunmen was involved in the Thursday attack that killed 11 Chinese construction workers and wounded five others in Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan.
Lieutenant General Mohammad Daud said two more suspects were arrested on Saturday. Two others were arrested on Friday and six on Sunday, bringing the total number of detainees to 10.
Xinhua News Service reports that the men are all from Baghlan Province.
"These people in the past belonged to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's party, and they later joined the Taliban," said Daud.
However, shortly after the tragedy, the Taliban denied participation.
Daud said that the killers arrived in two vehicles and escaped after the killings He could not give any more details since the investigation is ongoing.
He said that as many soldiers as the Chinese need would be sent to ensure the construction workers' safety and security.
A 14-member emergency group, including leaders of the China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), the company that employed the workers, arrived in Kabul on Saturday to deal with the aftermath of the attack.
CRCC Vice President Li Guorui said his company will not retreat or bow to terrorists and construction will continue. But, he stated, security for the road construction workers must be beefed up.
The injured workers are in stable condition at a hospital and the remaining workers are now back in Kunduz. They can choose to stay in Afghanistan to work or return to China.
According to sources with CRCC, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force will arrange two special planes to bring back the bodies of 11 dead workers and the injured today.
The plane carrying the remains of the dead will take off from Urumqi, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and return to Nanchang, capital city of Jiangxi Province, the hometown of the 10 victims.
The injured will be sent to Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province, for better care.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also sent a working group to Afghanistan on Saturday to work with the Afghan government and UN agencies in Afghanistan.
CRCC has also dispatched teams to the victim's hometowns in Jiangxi and Shandong provinces.
The families of those who were killed each received 3,000 yuan (US$361) as the first pension payment, while those who were injured got 2,000 yuan (US$242).
Further compensation is in the works.
Some 3,000 people in the capital of Takhar, an old Taliban stronghold that neighbors Kunduz Province, took part in a demonstration over the weekend to show their support for the Chinese.
(China Daily June 14, 2004)