41 Taliban Killed in South Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghan and international forces killed 41 Taliban militants in a battle in southern Afghanistan, and a suicide car bomb attack on a convoy of U.S. troops left six Afghan civilians dead in Kabul, U.S. and Afghan officials said Thursday.

None of the four American troops traveling in the two armored vehicles of the convoy was badly wounded in the Thursday attack, said Lt. Col. David Johnson, a spokesman for U.S. forces. The troops were traveling in one SUV and one truck, he said.

Six Afghan civilians were killed and up to 20 others wounded in the blast, Deputy Interior Minister Munir Mangal said. The attacker was driving a white Toyota Corolla, he said, a favorite among suicide car bombers.

In a mobile phone text message to an Associated Press reporter in Pakistan, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid identified the suicide bomber as Abdullah.

The suicide car bomb turned into a fiery hull that burned on the main airport road long after the attack, which also damaged several other vehicles.

U.S. troops and international security contractors surrounded the area after the blast.

Insurgents detonated 160 suicide attacks in 2007, a record number, the U.N. has said. Last year was the deadliest in the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion with more than 8,000 insurgency related deaths year, the U.N. said.

In southern Helmand province, Afghan and international forces attacked Taliban militants Wednesday morning as they traveled by motorcycle toward the Pakistan border, said Ghulam Dastagir Azad, governor of neighboring Nimroz province.

The troops employed airstrikes during the four-hour battle and killed 41 militants, including 17 from Nimroz, he said. A Taliban commander from Nimroz was among the dead.

The U.S.-led coalition could not confirm the attack. NATO said they were looking into the report, but did not immediately have any information.

In other violence, U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces killed nearly a dozen suspected militants in Helmand during a clash Tuesday in Garmsir district, the coalition said in a statement. The troops had been searching compounds for Taliban traffickers of weapons and foreign fighters when they were came under fire.

In Wardak province, a remote-controlled bomb hit a police vehicle Thursday in Saydabad district, killing one policeman and wounding four others, said district police investigator Mohibullah Khan.

In Zabul province, Afghan security forces and NATO troops launched an operation Wednesday against Chechen fighters meeting in Daychopan district, said district chief Fazel Bari. The ensuing two-hour gun battle left three Chechens dead and six wounded, he said.

On Wednesday in Farah province, authorities recovered the dead body of the Pusht Rod district police chief, a day after he was kidnapped along with five other policemen, said Bariyalai Khan, spokesman for the Farah provincial police. There was no information on the fates of the five other men.

Associated Press writer Noor Khan contributed to this report from Kandahar.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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