Two foreign soldiers, dozen rebels killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) – Two foreign soldiers were killed in action in Afghanistan on Friday, military forces said, while more than a dozen Taliban-linked rebels were killed in a separate battle involving air strikes.

A soldier with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was killed in the eastern province of Paktia, which borders Pakistan, the force said, giving no details of the incident.

A trooper with the separate US-led coalition was killed meanwhile in Kapisa, adjoining Kabul, when a bomb struck a military vehicle, the US military said.

The nationality of neither soldiers was released, with such announcements left to the more than 40 countries with nearly 70,000 soldiers in Afghanistan helping the government to fight an extremist insurgency led by the Taliban.

The latest deaths take to 53 the number of international soldiers to die in Afghanistan this year, most of them in combat.

The coalition said separately its troops had killed more than a dozen insurgents in the southernmost district of Garmser, said to be a key route for Taliban reinforcements and resupplies from bordering Pakistan.

The soldiers had come under attack Thursday while on a mission to “disrupt Taliban support” in Garmser, where US Marines and British forces are also operating.

“Coalition forces responded with small arms and air strikes, killing several of their attackers,” it said.

They were operating separately from the Marines and British soldiers on a similar ISAF mission in Garmser for nearly two weeks in which they say they have captured some Taliban positions.

Taliban fighters meanwhile attacked security forces on Friday about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from Kabul, on the main road linking the capital with the key southern city of Kandahar, police said.

Two private security guards were killed, Ghazni province police chief Khan Mohammad Mujahed told AFP.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahed, said one of his group’s men also died.

Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, police and a government official said on condition of anonymity that gunmen had stormed the house of prominent parliamentarian Hazrat Ali late Thursday and killed his father.

They took away with them three women and four children, they said.

US-backed Ali, one of the strongest power brokers in eastern Afghanistan, was involved the 2001 US-led assault that drove the Taliban from power.

He also played a role in the Tora Bora operation that failed to stop Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from escaping.

No one has claimed responsibility for the incident and the motivation was unclear.

The daily unrest in Afghanistan, most of it rooted in Islamic fundamentalist resistance to the new Western-backed government or in the booming opium trade, is hampering the destitute country’s efforts to rebuild after decades of war.

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