Coalition soldier, five civilians killed in Afghanistan
August 22, 2008
KABUL (AFP) – A soldier with the US-led coalition died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan Friday and the Afghan defence ministry said five civilians and 25 militants were killed in clashes involving air strikes against the Taliban.
The new violence comes amid a spike in attacks linked to a spiralling insurgency by the extremist Taliban militia and their allies, including from the Al-Qaeda network.
The coalition announced the killing of its soldier in eastern Afghanistan in a statement that gave few details, including the nationality of the casualty. Most soldiers in the east are American.
It has been a particularly bloody week for international troops with 10 French soldiers killed Monday in the deadliest ground fighting for the foreign forces since the 2001 ouster of the Taliban.
Eight foreign soldiers including three Poles and three Canadians died in various incidents on Wednesday, most of them in bomb strikes.
The coalition said separately 30 insurgents were killed in the air strikes in the western province of Herat, which it said followed an ambush on Afghan and coalition soldiers as they were going to arrest a Taliban commander.
It however rejected claims of civilian deaths.
“The ANA (Afghan National Army) and coalition forces killed 30 insurgents,” it said, adding a “known” Taliban commander was among the dead.
Two civilians were wounded but “No other civilian or friendly casualties were reported,” it said.
Five men were arrested and an arms cache consisting of Kalashnikov assault rifles, more than 4,000 rounds of ammunition and bomb-making materials was discovered.
But the Afghan defence ministry said however that five civilians — three women and two children — had died.
“Planes bombed the area and in the result 25 Taliban were killed including two famous commanders,” ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told AFP.
“Unfortunately five civilians were killed and one woman and a boy were wounded.”
There are regularly conflicting claims about who is killed in air strikes in Afghanistan with military forces aiming for extremists but locals often alleging they hit civilians — claims that are sometimes verified.
In other violence, police in the southern province of Uruzgan said that 11 Taliban were killed overnight after they attacked Afghan police and soldiers.
And two Afghan soldiers were killed in Badghis province Friday when their vehicles hit a bomb, an Afghan army officer said.