Blasts kill 4 NATO troops, up to 4 Afghan police

Three explosions just minutes apart rocked Kandahar on Monday night.

Kabul: Three explosions just minutes apart rocked Kandahar on Monday night, killing up to four Afghan police officers in the nation`s largest city in the south.

Three NATO service members also were killed by bombings in southern Afghanistan and an insurgent attack killed another in the east, raising the coalition`s death toll to 11 in the first four days of October. The nationalities of the dead were not disclosed.

A spokesman for the provincial governor of Kandahar, Zelmai Ayubi, said two policemen were killed and 10 other people were wounded in the explosions, which occurred near a school. Officials at Mirwais Hospital reported a higher death toll. They said four policemen died in the explosions and 17 other people were wounded.

Ayubi said the first explosion targeted an Afghan police office. When police gathered to tend to the wounded, two more explosions occurred, he said.

Control of Kandahar, the Taliban movement`s birthplace, is seen as key to the Afghan conflict. Afghan and NATO forces are engaged in a major operation to push out militants of strongholds there.

Also on Monday, NATO said a joint Afghan-coalition mission killed a senior Taliban leader named Farman and two other militants in eastern Paktia province. Farman "terrorised the local population by participating in attacks, kidnappings, interrogations and executions of Afghan civilians," NATO said.

An insurgent with the Haqqani network responsible for attacking coalition and Afghan troops was captured in an operation Sunday in eastern Khost province, the alliance said. The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based faction of the Taliban with close ties to al Qaeda.

The group was started by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a commander once supported by Pakistan and the US during the 1980s war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Haqqani has since turned against the US, and American military officials have said his organisation — now effectively led by his son, Sirajuddin — presents one of the greatest threats to foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi accused NATO of engaging in a propaganda campaign to demoralise the insurgents` morale by inventing Taliban leaders and alleging they were killed or captured.

"Most of the commanders` names NATO are using don`t even exist," Ahmadi said. "This is just a game from the American side, nothing else."

In western Nimroz province on Monday, a police convoy was ambushed in Khash Rod district, said provincial police chief General Abdul Jabar Pardeli. Five militants were killed, three others wounded and two captured during a gunbattle. Police suffered no casualties, he said.

In other violence, a former district chief, Habibullah Aghonzada, was gunned down by assailants as he prayed at a packed mosque in Kandahar city on Monday, the governor`s office said in a statement.

On Sunday, three insurgents died in an Afghan and NATO operation in Kandahar province`s Arghandab district, the statement said. The raid in Khisroo village also recovered explosive material and an anti-personnel mine that were destroyed.

Afghan security forces, meanwhile, were attacked by militants in Kandahar`s Panjwai district on Sunday, the statement said. No casualties were sustained by either side after a firefight.

Bureau Report