Kabul: Three NATO troops were killed Friday in Afghanistan in a surge of attacks that raised the death toll to 17 over the past three days for international troops in the country.
One service member died Friday in an insurgent attack in the east and another was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, an alliance statement said. It did not give nationalities or exact locations of the attacks. France said a French soldier died Friday of wounds sustained in a clash in the Uzbin Valley east of Kabul the day before.
On Thursday, eight NATO troops were killed in a spate of attacks, including four separate roadside bombings — the weapon of choice for insurgents who rely on guerrilla tactics to counter intensified NATO-Afghan operations.
It has been the deadliest year for international forces in the nine-year Afghan conflict. Troop numbers have been ramped up to turn the screws on insurgents and casualties have mounted. The escalating toll — more than 2,020 NATO deaths since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion — has shaken the commitment of many alliance countries, with calls growing to start drawing down forces quickly.
In southern Helmand province Thursday, a suicide attacker killed one police officer, said police chief of Reg-i-Khan Nishin district, Kamal Uddin, on Friday. The officer spotted the assailant approaching a compound and went out to intercept him. The attacker blew himself up, also killing the policeman, Uddin said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf said the suicide bomber killed 11 police at the compound gate. It was impossible to independently confirm the account, and the Taliban are known to exaggerate death tolls. The nearly 150,000 international troops and 220,000 Afghan security forces are still struggling to gain the upper hand against an estimated 30,000 insurgents.
The embattled south is the scene of Operation Dragon Strike, launched last month by NATO and Afghan forces in areas around Kandahar province to flush out entrenched Taliban fighters and destroy their strongholds.
However, near-daily violence has also shaken other regions of Afghanistan recently.