Kabul, Feb 17 – A NATO soldier and nine Afghan civilians died in attacks across insurgency-torn Afghanistan while military offensives killed at least 17 suspected militants, officials said Monday.
The NATO soldier, whose nationality was not disclosed, died from wounds “caused by indirect fire in eastern Afghanistan,” the alliance said.
The statement gave no details but Taliban insurgents, who are battling foreign forces and the Afghan government, are active in the east.
Elsewhere, five civilians were killed when a roadside bomb ripped through their vehicle on the road between the southern provinces of Uruzgan and Kandahar, police and a health official said.
Both regions are known Taliban hotspots.
“A civilian car hit a roadside bomb on the Uruzgan-Kandahar highway. It killed five civilians and injured a sixth person,” Uruzgan deputy police chief Mohammad Gulab told AFP.
Khan Agha Miakhail, head of public health in the province, confirmed the incident and said the victims had been employees of the private Afghan Wireless Communication Company.
“Five bodies and an injured person have been admitted to our hospital. They are technical employees of Afghan Wireless,” he said.
Three other civilians were killed and three wounded in a similar bomb blast in Kunar province, in eastern Afghanistan, the interior ministry said.
The ministry blamed the attack on “enemies of Afghanistan” — a common term that refers to the Taliban, who were ousted from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion but have regrouped.
Another civilian was killed when a bomb hidden on an abandoned motorbike exploded in Kandahar on Sunday, the defence ministry said.
Overnight, warplanes raided a militant hideout, killing 10 rebels, including two key militant commanders, in the northwestern province of Badghis on the border with Turkmenistan, the US-led military and Afghan authorities said.
Mullah Dastagir, a key militant leader, and several of his associates were killed in the air strike, a statement said.
The US-led force said Dastagir was behind several attacks on Afghan and international forces, including a deadly ambush last November.
“Dastagir was responsible for an increase in violence in Badghis over recent months. In November, Dastagir was responsible for an attack on an Afghan National Army convoy that killed 13 soldiers,” it said.
Several other rebels in the same compound were also killed in the raid, said the military.
Sayed Ahmad Sameh, Badghis provincial police chief, said 10 Taliban, including two provincial commanders, were killed.
“Mullah Dastagir and Mullah Baz Mohammad, two big Taliban commanders and eight of their men were killed in the air strike by the coalition forces,” he told AFP.
The Afghan defence ministry said 12 militants were killed in the attack.
Seven other Taliban-linked insurgents were killed in an operation by Afghan troops in southern Helmand province on Sunday, the ministry said.
There are about 70,000 international troops based in the country, supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai in a battle against the insurgency, which is most intense in the southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan.