Officials say 5 Afghan police, 1 NATO soldier die

Each spring and summer Taliban step up their attacks against Afghan forces.

Kabul: A roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan has killed five Afghan border policemen while an insurgent attack elsewhere in the country left one NATO service member dead, officials said on Friday.

General Abdul Raziq, chief of the Afghan border police in Kandahar province, said one other border policeman was wounded in the blast on Thursday night in Spin Boldak district along the Pakistan border.

The NATO service member was killed on Thursday in the east, following an insurgent attack. So far this year, 128 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan.

Each spring and summer the Taliban step up their attacks against Afghan government forces and the NATO-led coalition supporting them. That uptick in fighting is anticipated to be in full force by the end of this month, or early May.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday in Washington that if hard-won security gains made in the south and east against the Taliban during the past year can be sustained during spring and summer fighting, the US-led coalition may find it has "turned a corner" by the end of this year.

Marine General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that until the Taliban have the manpower they need to launch a spring offensive, the fighting is likely to feature "individual spectacular" attacks rather than sustained combat involving larger groups of Taliban forces.

Also in the east on Thursday, a joint Afghan and coalition force captured insurgent running weapons for the al Qaeda affiliated Haqqani network in Sabari district of Khost province, the coalition said.

In the north, militants attacked a convoy of fuel tankers Thursday night in Dushi district of Baghlan province. The governor`s office said two tankers, carrying fuel for international forces, were burned and seven others were damaged.

The coalition said the convoy was operated by a civilian contractor. When insurgents attacked, the convoy`s security guards returned fire, according to NATO. The coalition said no casualties were reported, but three vehicles were destroyed.

Bureau Report