Image: Afghanistan
Fraidoon Pooyaa  /  AP
An Afghan policeman stands by the wreckage of a car used in a suicide car bomb attack targeting a convoy of NATO's military forces in Herat province west of Kabul, Afghanistan, on Friday.
updated 12/26/2008 5:32:18 PM ET 2008-12-26T22:32:18

The U.S. coalition said Friday its forces killed 11 Taliban militants, including the leader of a bomb-making cell, during an operation in southern Afghanistan.

The raid in Kandahar province on Thursday targeted a bomb-maker responsible for roadside bomb attacks that killed NATO soldiers, a coalition statement said.

Militants barricaded themselves inside a home during the raid and opened fire on the coalition forces. After giving time to allow women and children to leave, the coalition forces fired on the militants with guns and grenades, it said.

One woman who remained in the building was wounded in the leg. She was evacuated to a coalition medical facility, it said.

Coalition forces found dozens of land mines, grenades, AK-47s and bomb-making materials in the home, the coalition said.

Overnight raids by elite Special Forces troops have been a sore point with some Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai. Afghan officials say innocent civilians are often wounded or killed during the risky operations.

Karzai last week attended a memorial ceremony for three Afghans killed in an overnight raid in Khost province. Afghan officials said the three were innocent civilians; the U.S. coalition said they were militants or linked to the insurgency.

Roadside blast
In other violence, a Canadian soldier was killed and three others were wounded by a roadside bomb west of Kandahar city, the Canadian military said Friday. The military said the three injured soldiers were in good condition. The name of the dead soldier was not released.

The death put the Canadian toll at 104 soldiers and one diplomat killed since its mission in Afghanistan began in 2001.

Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Its military mission is slated to end in 2011.

The prime minister of Spain said Friday that his country has no plans to expand its peacekeeping contingent.

Within days, the government is expected to eliminate a 3,000-person limit on the number of Spanish soldiers who can be stationed abroad. That has raised speculation that Spain's 800-strong contingent in western Afghanistan might be increased if incoming President Barack Obama requests it.

But Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told a news conference Friday he has no such plans. "The government's position is not in favor of increasing Spanish troops in Afghanistan," he said.

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


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