Attacks kill Afghan soldiers, police (Afghanistan)
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) - Four Afghan security personnel and a civilian were killed in bomb blasts and a gunfight with Taliban on Saturday, while air strikes killed several extremist rebels, officials said.
The civilian died when a bomb fixed to a bicycle exploded in the troubled southern city of Kandahar as a police vehicle passed, police officer Faiz Mohammad told AFP from the site.
"Police did not suffer any casualty but a civilian passerby was killed and another was injured," he said.
Hours later, another bomb blast hit Afghan soldiers on a logistics mission in the neighbouring province of Helmand, a focus of a Taliban-led insurgency, the defence ministry in Kabul said.
The explosion killed two soldiers and injured four others, it said.
Meanwhile in Ghazni, a troubled region in central Afghanistan, two police officers were killed and four others were injured in a gunfight with Taliban insurgents, police said.
A Taliban militant was also killed in the three-hour gunfight in Ghazni's Andar area, deputy border police commander Assadullah Nawrozi said.
Two other Taliban died in Andar when a mine they were trying to plant blew up, police said.
Elsewhere, the Afghan army said international forces had bombed a Taliban mountain hideout in the southwestern province of Farah on Friday, killing seven rebels.
The strikes were part of a new Afghan and international military operation that began in the province Friday, said the most senior Afghan army commander in western Afghanistan, Jalandar Shah Behnam.
Forces also captured two "senior" Taliban commanders from the region and freed two civilians who were held as hostages, the defence ministry said.
Farah has experienced a string of bloody attacks in recent weeks, including a suicide bombing on Thursday that killed 16 people.
Separately, the US military said "several extremists" were killed in operations in the eastern province of Khost aimed at a Taliban involved in bomb attacks on troops.
Friday's operations were in a district where a suicide attack in March killed two NATO soldiers and two civilians.
Forces also said they had arrested nearly 20 suspected militants across the country, eight of them in eastern Nangarhar province bordering Pakistan.
A local police commander said however that the men captured in Nangarhar were civilians and alleged that troops had beaten people during the operation.
"The men captured by Americans are not Taliban. They are innocent civilians," said Malik Zarjan, police chief of Nangarhar's Achin district.
"I went to the area and I saw a 90-year-old man who was badly beaten by Americans. He was screaming," he said.
The fight between security forces and extremist Islamic insurgents in Afghanistan is complex with both sides accusing each other of causing civilian casualties.
The Taliban campaign to take back power has gained pace in the past two years despite the growing strength of the Afghan and multinational forces.
Von: 17.5.2008, afp.google.com