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A group of western tourists on a sightseeing adventure tour of Afghanistan have been ambushed by Taliban gunmen, Afghan officials said on Thursday, with at least six people wounded. The foreigners were travelling in the Chesht-e-Sharif district in the western province of Herat with an Afghan army escort when militants opened fire on the convoy. Two of the British citizens were believed to be from Scotland.
A military spokesman said the attack left at least five foreign tourists and their Afghan driver wounded. The attack reportedly ended at around 1. About two hours later, the group arrived at a medical clinic in Obeh district, west of the ambush site, according to a source at the clinic. Reportedly, none of the injuries was serious. According to sources in Kabul, the party had gone to Afghanistan with Hinterland Travel, a small British tour operator based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, run by veteran tour guide Geoff Hann.
The company specialises in adventure tours to war-torn countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. It says tourists arrive in the capital Kabul and then travel by road to the Bamiyan valley, home of giant Buddha statues blown up by the Taliban in Frankly it needs any help that we or anyone can provide … The main roads had become diabolical but are now being totally reconstructed.
The Afghan people are friendly and cheerfully welcoming, although wary until we can prove that we are travellers and not something else. Ancient and recent history are scattered everywhere, from Buddhist remains to burnt-out tanks. No one from the firm was available for comment. James Willcox, founder of Untamed Borders, said his agency rarely travels by road in Afghanistan, and only in low-profile cars and dressed in local clothes.
Wild Frontiers, another tour company, said they, too, only fly through the central provinces. Usually, the company takes tourists a year to Afghanistan, said its head of tour groups, Marc Leaderman. The Taliban officially claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday afternoon. It comes as militants intensify their annual summer offensive after a brief lull during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ended in early July.