Kabul: A NATO soldier was today killed in
a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, the military said, as
leaders meet to determine the future of the alliance`s mission
in the war-torn country.
The latest death takes to 654 the number of foreign
troops to have died in Afghanistan this year, according to an
AFP count based on the independent icasualties.org web site
which tracks coalition fatalities and injuries.
Roadside bombs have become the weapons of choice for
Taliban insurgents, who want the full withdrawal of foreign
forces deployed in the country to support the pro-Western
government in Kabul.
Leaders of the 28-country NATO alliance were meeting
in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, to discuss its continued
involvement in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, amid mounting
casualties and increasing unpopularity back home.
The bloc and other countries which are part of the
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are expected to
endorse a plan to begin transferring powers to the Afghan
police, military and government from July next year.
Afghan authorities want a full transition by the end
of 2014 but NATO officials and politicians have warned that
foreign troops could still be in charge of security in some
areas into 2015 and beyond.
ISAF earlier announced that two insurgents were killed
yesterday when Afghan and foreign troops targeted a suspected
Taliban leader in the Now Zad district of Helmand province,
also in the south.
A statement called him a "senior facilitator" of bomb
attacks on Afghan and NATO troops, and "a key conduit of
information and financial support" between the Afghan Taliban
and their counterparts in neighbouring Pakistan.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspected
Taliban leader was among the two dead.
In the eastern Khost province, the military also
reported the capture of a leader from the hardline,
Pakistan-based Haqqani network, also suspected of
co-ordinating IED attacks.
ISAF reports similar operations on a daily basis and
also highlights its training of the Afghan police and
military, which is seen as essential for the transition of