NATO service member killed in south Afghanistan

AP News
Posted: Jun 06, 2011 1:34 PM
NATO service member killed in south Afghanistan

A NATO service member was killed Monday in southern Afghanistan, where violence is increasing as the poppy harvest ends and the Taliban turns opium profits into payments for fighters.

In the southern province of Helmand, the world's leading opium producer and the Taliban's profit center, NATO officials say insurgents are regrouping and fighting to retake key cities and towns they lost during clearing operations by U.S. Marines during the past year.

In Sangin, where nearly a third of all British Afghan war casualties have taken place, Taliban insurgent commanders have retrenched and are answering U.S. Marines' latest offensives with stiff resistance.

"There is an attempt to take Sangin back," said Marine Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan Jr., commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in southwest Afghanistan.

On Monday, a NATO service member was killed by an improvised bomb in the south, the coalition said. A day earlier, another coalition service member was killed in a roadside bomb attack.

NATO has provided no other details about the attacks or the identities of the dead.

Two NATO crew members also died when their helicopter crashed on Sunday. The alliance is investigating the crash and declined to release the crew members' names pending notification of their relatives.

More than 200 NATO troops have died this year in Afghanistan, many of them in the southern provinces along the Pakistani border and the Taliban's redoubts.

In the southern province of Nimroz, the Taliban attacked a police checkpoint, killing two policemen and abducting five others, an Afghan official said Monday.

The Sunday attack also wounded two police officers, said Hashim Noorzai, district governor of Khash Rod. Nimroz is a sparsely populated and arid province neighboring Iran and Pakistan that Taliban fighters and smugglers often use as a staging area.

In the restive southern province of Kandahar, Afghan police staged a raid Sunday night in Arghistan district and killed two Taliban fighters, including a prominent insurgent commander of at least two provincial districts, Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq said Monday.

The commander, known as Sarajuddin, was a former military chief of Herat province during the Taliban's reign and recently led the insurgency in the districts of Arghistan and Spin Boldak.