Alexa

Afghan fighting kills 1 NATO, 2 U.S. troops; another NATO soldier presumed dead

Afghan fighting kills 1 NATO, 2 U.S. troops; another NATO soldier presumed dead

A NATO soldier was killed and another presumed dead after insurgents and Western troops battled in Afghanistan, while firefights killed two U.S. and four Afghan troops and a suicide bomber attacked a Canadian convoy, officials said.
The clashes came Tuesday as NATO prepared to assume military command of eastern Afghanistan from a U.S.-led coalition.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber on a motorbike attacked a Canadian military convoy in the city of Kandahar, but no troops were injured, said Maj. Daryl Morrell, a spokesman for the NATO-led force.
Canada's Department of Defense said two Canadian soldiers were killed and five wounded while providing security for road construction just west of Kandahar. It was not immediately clear if the attack was the one confirmed by NATO.
"They were members of the surveillance troops," said Col. Fred Lewis, the Canadian contingent's deputy commander. "They were conducting vehicle checkpoints and observation posts at the time."
The soldiers were providing security for road construction and holding an observation post about 20 kilometers ( 12.5 miles) west of Kandahar when insurgents attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles in the afternoon, the Canadian military said.
The clash with NATO troops in Kandahar province also left eight soldiers wounded after their patrol came under mortar and small arms fire in Zhari district, a NATO statement said.
NATO did not disclose the soldiers' nationalities or clarify why one was classified as "presumed dead." Calls seeking comment rang unanswered.
Two American and one Afghan soldier died Monday in a gunfight with militants in eastern Kunar province bordering Pakistan, the U.S. military said. Three U.S. soldiers were wounded, it said.
"The soldiers were operating as part of a combat patrol that made contact with enemy extremists," the statement said.
About 7,000 Afghan and U.S. troops are in eastern Afghanistan as part of Operation Mountain Fury, aimed at wiping out militants and extending the Afghan government's reach.
Separately, three border police were killed and three wounded this week when Taliban fighters attacked their outpost near the border in the eastern province of Paktika, said provincial Gov. Mohammad Akram Akhpelwak.
In Kandahar, flames engulfed a military vehicle after a suicide bomber rammed into a NATO convoy, witnesses said.
"I was sitting outside my shop. I saw a motorbike come close to the Canadian convoy, and then (the driver) detonated himself," said a witness, Ali Ahmad.
NATO-led troops, meanwhile, will take over the command of military operations for all of Afghanistan from the U.S.-led coalition on Thursday, said Daan Everts, the alliance's senior civilian representative in Afghanistan.
The takeover is seen as a big step in an already historic expansion of missions for the largely European alliance.
Of the 40,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, about 8,000 U.S. troops tracking al-Qaida terrorists or involved in air operations will remain outside NATO's control, officials said.
NATO's roles in Afghanistan are its most challenging missions the alliance has undertaken in its 57-year history.
Afghanistan in recent months has seen the largest increase in violence since the U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in 2001.
A suicide bomber in the capital, Kabul, killed 12 people and wounded more than 40 on Saturday.


Updated : 2021-01-19 07:17 GMT+08:00