KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AFP) – The latest in a wave of attacks blamed on Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has left five people dead, including a foreign soldier, police and the NATO-led military force said.
The soldier with the US-led coalition was killed Monday when militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a military vehicle travelling through the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the NATO force said.
“One vehicle was destroyed and one coalition soldier was killed, but there was no heavy fighting,” International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Captain Andre Salloum told AFP on Tuesday.
ISAF and the coalition work with Afghan security forces against Taliban and other militants carrying out daily attacks across Afghanistan as part of an anti-government insurgency that has been the bloodiest this year.
Salloum did not give the nationality of the soldier but most of the troops with the coalition are US nationals. More than 115 foreign troops have been killed in combat this year, about half of them Americans.
The attack was in the Panjwayi district, about 35 kilometres (19 miles) west of Kandahar city, which in September was the focus of ISAF’s biggest anti-Taliban offensive yet, an operation the force said killed around 1,000 rebels.
An Afghan army soldier was killed the same day when an improvised explosive device (IED) struck a military patrol in the Gereshk area of neighbouring Helmand province, Salloum said.
“A vehicle went over an IED which was on the road. One vehicle was damaged and had to be destroyed,” he said.
ISAF soldiers destroyed the vehicle because it was not salvageable and contained military equipment and intelligence, he said.
In the eastern province of Khost meanwhile, Taliban insurgents attacked a highway police post just after midnight Monday, sparking off a gun battle that killed two Taliban and a policeman.
“Another police was wounded in that Taliban attack on our post last night,” police commander Mohammad Ayoob told AFP.
The incidents are part of a pattern of guerrilla-style strikes by the Taliban and other Islamist groups trying to destabilise Afghanistan by attacking military and government targets, as well as aid workers.
This year has also seen some of the most intense battles between the military and rebels since the Taliban were toppled in 2001 but there have been no announcements of heavy fighting in the past few days.
The relentless violence is frustrating Afghans and undermining support for President Hamid Karzai. But international and Afghan officials have warned it will take several years to stabilise the war-torn country, with reconstruction essential to the project.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer repeated Monday calls for the European Union and United Nations to do more to rebuild the destitute nation.
“NATO is doing a lot but we are neither a relief organisation nor a reconstruction agency,” he told a conference in Brussels.
“Now is the time for the international community to step in and help push Afghanistan further in the right direction.”