POSTED: 01:28 a.m. HST, Oct 04, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 07:51 a.m. HST, Oct 04, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan — Three NATO service members were killed by bombings in southern Afghanistan on Monday and an insurgent attack killed another in the east, raising the coalition's death toll to 11 in the first four days of October.
It has been the deadliest year for international troops in the nine-year Afghan conflict, and the escalating toll has shaken the commitment of many NATO countries with rising calls to start drawing down troops quickly.
NATO did not specify where Monday's bombings and attack occurred, and didn't give the service members' nationalities.
It also announced a joint Afghan-coalition unit launched a night mission that killed a senior Taliban leader named Farman and two other militants in eastern Paktia province. Farman "terrorized the local population by participating in attacks, kidnappings, interrogations and executions of Afghan civilians," NATO said.
An insurgent with the Haqqani network responsible for attacking coalition and Afghan troops was captured in an operation Sunday in eastern Khost province, the alliance said. The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based faction of the Taliban with close ties to al-Qaida.
The group was started by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander once supported by Pakistan and the U.S. during the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Haqqani has since turned against the U.S., and American military officials have said his organization — now effectively led by his son, Sirajuddin — presents one of the greatest threats to foreign forces in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi accused NATO of engaging in a propaganda campaign to demoralize the insurgents' moral by inventing Taliban leaders and alleging they were killed or captured.
"Most of the commanders' names NATO are using don't even exist," Ahmadi told The Associated Press. "This is just a game from the American side, nothing else."
In western Nimroz province Monday, a police convoy was ambushed in Khash Rod district, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Jabar Pardeli. Five militants were killed, three others wounded and two captured during a gunbattle. Police suffered no casualties, he said.
In other violence, a former district chief, Habibullah Aghonzada, was gunned down by assailants as he prayed at a packed mosque in Kandahar city on Monday, the governor's office said in a statement.
On Sunday, three insurgents died in an Afghan and NATO operation Sunday in Kandahar province's Arghandab district, the statement said. The raid in Khisroo village also recovered explosive material and an anti-personnel mine that were destroyed.
Afghan security forces, meanwhile, were attacked by militants in Kandahar's Panjwai district on Sunday, the statement said. No casualties were sustained by either side after a firefight.
Control of Kandahar, the Taliban movement's birthplace, is seen as key to the Afghan conflict. Afghan and NATO forces are engaged in a major operation to push out militants from strongholds there.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.