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British soldier, 10 Taliban killed in Afghanistan

Insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan killed a British soldier and wounded seven Sunday, while police killed 10 suspected Taliban militants, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Insurgent attacks in southern Afghanistan killed a British soldier and wounded seven Sunday, while police killed 10 suspected Taliban militants who struck a government compound, officials said.

Another NATO soldier and six Afghan troops were wounded when mortars hit their base in Kandahar province early Sunday, a NATO statement said. It said three women were killed when mortar rounds also landed in a nearby village.

Gunmen also killed four people, including two police, in western Afghanistan Sunday, the provincial governor said. The attackers targeted a police checkpoint in the Jena district of the western province of Farah, said the governor, Hazatullah Wasefi.

Afghanistan is experiencing its worst violence since the late-2001 ouster of the Taliban regime for hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Much of it is affecting southern provinces patrolled by NATO-led forces.

More than 1,600 people, mostly militants, have died in the past four months, according to an Associated Press tally of violent incidents reported by U.S., NATO and Afghan officials.

The British soldier was killed in the southern Helmand province, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said.

A large number of Taliban militants also attacked Helmand’s Musa Qala district compound Saturday, sparking a clash with police that left 10 insurgents dead, said Ghulam Nabi Malakheil, provincial police chief.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, said a raid earlier this week that left eight people dead in eastern Afghanistan had killed an “al-Qaida associate.”

Alam Zer, described as a commander of an Islamic extremist group led by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, was the target of the Thursday raid in eastern Kunar province, said Col. Tom Collins, the chief U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan.

Karzai orders investigation
President Hamid Karzai ordered a probe Friday into the killings after police officials said the raid killed civilians who were trying to resolve a feud. But Collins said that Zer “had links in Pakistan and in the training and facilitating the movement of Arab fighters into Afghanistan.”

U.S. forces have been stepping up operations along Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan, where al-Qaida fugitives are believed to be at large along with allies from the toppled Taliban regime and extremists belonging to Hekmatyar’s Hezb-e-Islami group.

“The aim of this operation was to capture Alam Zer, but it was his forces who fired on coalition forces and we returned fire,” Collins told reporters.

Rockets strike buildings in Kabul
Four rockets slammed into west Kabul on Sunday, one landing near a district police station and another damaging a house, said district police chief Gen. Zalmai Oryakail. No injuries were reported.

Kabul has been spared most of the violence that has engulfed Afghanistan’s south and east, but a series of bombings and attacks on NATO-led peacekeepers has rattled the nerves of its citizens.

Armed men ambushed a bus transferring 30 prisoners from Kandahar to Kabul on Sunday, killing a prison official and wounding a policeman, said Noor Mohammad Paktin, police chief of southern Zabul province, where the attack occurred.

Some prisoners fled but were quickly recaptured and taken to Kabul, Paktin said. It was not clear who the prisoners were.