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NATO says 2 Taliban commanders killed

/ Source: The Associated Press

Afghan and NATO-led troops killed two regional Taliban commanders in southern Afghanistan, and an explosion in the same province claimed the life of a British soldier, officials said Thursday.

"As a result of this successful attack (on the commanders), the Taliban's networks have suffered another severe setback," said Brig. Gen. Carlos Branco, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

The joint NATO-Afghan forces killed commander Mullah Abdul Matin and his associate, Mullah Karim Agha, in the southern province of Helmand on Monday, the alliance said in a statement.

NATO said Matin and Agha were behind several suicide bombings in Helmand, the world's largest opium poppy producing region.

The Taliban did not immediately confirm the deaths.

Elsewhere in Helmand an explosion killed a British soldier and wounded another Wednesday, Britain's Ministry of Defense said in London. It said the wounded soldier was treated for minor injuries.

The blast hit as a British patrol was trying to disrupt Taliban activity, the ministry said in a statement. The cause of the explosion was not immediately known, it said.

The death brought to 89 the number of British service members killed in Afghanistan since the troops were deployed there in 2001.

Suspects in deadly bombing detained
Meanwhile, authorities in neighboring Kandahar province detained seven men suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing that killed more than 100 people Sunday at a dog fighting competition in Kandahar, provincial Gov. Asadullah Khalid said.

The bombing, which targeted a militia leader who opposed the Taliban, was the deadliest insurgent attack since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.

Afghan intelligence agents detained the suspects in two separate operations Wednesday, Khalid said.

Insurgency-related violence in Afghanistan killed more than 6,500 people in 2007 _ the deadliest year since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, according to a tally of figures from Afghan and Western officials. Most of the dead were insurgents.