Bomb kills 4 Afghan police in western province

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 8:29 AM

A roadside bomb killed four police officers in western Afghanistan and two soldiers died in separate militant attacks, the latest against the country's struggling security forces, officials said Wednesday.

The attacks follow deadly Taliban ambushes on checkpoints in the north and south of the country on Monday that killed 16 national police _ underscoring the threat faced by Afghan forces seen as pivotal to plans for an eventual withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

The roadside bomb hit a car carrying the police Tuesday night in Rubat-i-Sangin district, north of the city of Herat, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry. Noor Khan Nekzad, a spokesman for the provincial police chief, said the patrol vehicle was destroyed by the blast.

Also Tuesday, two Afghan army soldiers were killed in militant attacks in eastern Laghman province and southern Kandahar province, the Defense Ministry said.

According to the ministry, militants have carried out 3,170 bombings or suicide attacks so far this year. Another 3,617 bombs were been defused before they were detonated.

President Barack Obama has ordered some 30,000 U.S. reinforcements to try to reverse the tide against the Taliban, but has said troops could begin withdrawing from the country within 18 months if conditions are right.

NATO, meanwhile, reported success by Afghan and international forces in detaining Wednesday two Taliban commanders and another suspected militant near a village in the central province of Wardak.

In Kandahar, a joint force searched a compound in the Zhari district and detained militants and a Taliban commander believed responsible for a number of roadside bomb attacks in the area. More militants were detained in Arghandab district.

No shots were fired and no one was injured in the operations, NATO said.

Also on Wednesday, an Afghan-German lawyer working with the relatives of victims of a deadly September airstrike in northern Kunduz province, said he is negotiating with German officials to compensate them with cash payments or through land, farm equipment or projects for the area.

Lawyer Karim Popal alleged that 137 civilians died in the NATO airstrike that was called in by German forces operating in Kunduz. It targeted two fuel tanker trucks that had been ambushed by Taliban amid fears militants might have used the trucks to attack troops.

An Afghan commission has said 30 civilians were killed along with 69 armed Taliban fighters.

At a news conference in Kabul, Popal said he had information suggesting that the Taliban militants were not in the area at the time of the airstrike. He said that he had met with families of the victims and identified 91 widows and 56 children related to victims.

He did not provide details on the negotiations over compensation.

The airstrike caused political turbulence in Berlin. Former German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung resigned from the government, and the head of Germany's armed forces, Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan also stepped down.