NATO: 30 insurgents killed in eastern Afghanistan

October 28, 2011 - 11:05 AM
Afghanistan

Afghans check a car which was destroyed following an explosion in a fuel tanker in Parwan province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011. A bomb hidden inside a fuel truck in a central Afghan province exploded as scores of people gathered around the vehicle to collect fuel that was leaking, killing at least five in a blast that shattered a period of relative quiet in the war-ravaged nation, officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S.-led NATO coalition in Afghanistan says militants attacked a convoy of Afghan and coalition troops in the east of the country, starting a fire fight that left about 30 of the attacking insurgents dead.

The coalition says the joint force called for air support during the gunbattle Friday in Shinwar district of Nangarhar province.

The coalition says initial reports indicate that about 30 insurgents had been killed. It did not disclose other details or say whether any Afghan or coalition forces were killed or wounded.

International forces have concentrated on Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan in recent years, but have shifted their focus to the east along the border with Pakistan.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A NATO service member was killed Friday in a roadside bombing in the same restive southern Afghan province where the U.S.-led alliance, a day earlier, repelled a coordinated Taliban attack on a U.S.-run civilian and military base.

The service member died as a result of an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province, the Taliban's traditional stronghold, NATO said in a statement that did not provide additional details. The death raises to 480 the number of coalition forces killed in Afghanistan so far this year.

Separately, the U.S.-led alliance said its troops, in tandem with Afghan police, were able to repel a Taliban attack on the camp in Kandahar that is home to NATO troops, including Americans, and a provincial reconstruction team.

NATO said one Afghan interpreter was killed in the attack that began at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, while one American civilian contractor and two Afghan security guards were injured. In addition, five NATO service members were slightly wounded, the alliance said.

The attack began as the Taliban launched an assault from a compound across from the camp, firing rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, NATO said. Coalition forces returned fire while Afghan police, led by Kandahar provincial Police Chief Gen. Abdul Razzaq who was at the base at the time of the attack for a meeting, began clearing the compound.

Two car bombs went off as the Afghan police were clearing the compound, NATO said, but there were no injuries as a result of the explosions. The buildings had been rigged with improvised explosives devices and NATO forces, at the request of Afghan officials, "used precision munitions to reduce the threat," the coalition said.

On Thursday, Razzaq had said that two of the attackers were killed as forces cleared the compound.

Kandahar, and much of the south, had long been seen as a Taliban stronghold, but Afghan and coalition forces have made significant gains in the area and the insurgents have since shifted their operations further east and to some northern provinces.

NATO said the presence of car bombs at the site indicated the insurgents had a plan, which they were unable to execute, and that it had expected the Taliban to launch such an attack before the onset of winter, when the violence and attacks tend to abate.

In other incidents across the country, a civilian car struck a roadside bomb early Friday in Nangarhar province's Khogyani district, killing two men, a woman and a child, said district chief Mohammad Hassan.