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Attackers gouge out Afghan man's eyes

    * Story Highlights
    * Three armed assailants attack a man and gouge out his eyes in front of 
his family
    * Man, a farmer, attacked at his home the Sangin district of Helmand 
    * Helmand's governor's spokesman claims he has no link with government or 
    * Taliban spokesman denied that Taliban fighters were involved

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Armed assailants attacked a man and gouged out 
his eyes in front of his family during a gruesome assault in southern 
Afghanistan, officials said Sunday.

The man, Sayed Ghulam, is recovering in a hospital in the country's largest 
southern city, Kandahar.

Ghulam, 52, said three armed men knocked on his door in the Sangin district of 
Helmand province late Thursday. After he opened the door, they punched him in 
the face, put the barrel of a Kalashnikov rifle in his mouth and gouged out his 
eyes with a knife in the presence of his wife and seven children.

"I was crying, along with my children and wife, who was screaming for help, but 
they didn't listen," Ghulam told The Associated Press from his hospital room in 

Ghulam, a farmer who said he raises wheat and popcorn, said he does not know 
why he was attacked. "I don't have any enemies. But they were not letting me 
talk. They put the AK-47 in my mouth and they were punching me."

Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for Helmand's governor, blamed Taliban fighters for 
the attack, saying that the militants often kill innocent Afghans.

"This guy Ghulam was just a normal man, a farmer," Ahmadi said. "He didn't have 
any link with the government or NATO forces. He was a normal man but these 
killers took out his eyes in front of his family. I don't know what kind of 
heart these killers have."

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi denied that Taliban fighters were 
involved. "Whenever we carry out an attack we claim responsibility," Ahmadi 
said. "We didn't gouge out this man's eyes."

Ghulam, who has a black beard and whose head is almost completely wrapped in a 
large white bandage, said his attackers were wearing black turbans on their 
head like many Taliban fighters, but that he didn't know who carried out the 

Taliban militants sometimes carry out harsh punishments for people they accuse 
of being thieves or "spies" for the Afghan government. Such punishments include 
having hands cut off or being tarred and paraded publicly, but few reports of 
people having their eyes gouged out have surfaced in Afghanistan in recent 

In Kabul, two high-profile Afghan kidnapping victims were freed by intelligence 
officials Sunday after being discovered in a well where their captors had kept 
them, officials said.

Captors had demanded $5 million each for Humayun Shah Asifi, a former 
presidential candidate in the country's 2004 elections, and a second hostage, 
the son of the owner of a major bank chain, said Amrullah Saleh, chief of 
Afghanistan's intelligence department. The two, abducted separately, had been 
held for less than a week.

Officials arrested eight people suspected of being involved in the kidnappings, 
he said.

Kidnapping of high-profile and wealthy Afghans is a growing problem. Criminal 
gangs demand high ransoms for the release of their hostages. The kidnapping 
crime wave has caused some Afghan businessmen to flee the country.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not 
be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

All AboutAfghanistan • Afghanistan War • The Taliban

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