American service member killed in insurgent attack in Afghanistan; 24th NATO death this month

Sunday, May 16, 2010

NATO soldier killed in Afghan insurgent attack

KABUL — A U.S. service member was killed Sunday following an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan, NATO said.

Alliance spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks confirmed an American died Sunday but declined to provide details, pending notification of the family of the service member.

Twenty-four NATO troops, including 16 U.S. service members, have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month.

NATO is pouring troops into southern Afghanistan as part of a stepped-up security operation in Kandahar, where insurgents have waged a campaign of targeted killings against government officials.

On Sunday, two militants on a motorbike opened fire on a car belonging to a National Security Directorate official who was on his way to work, said Kandahar Police Chief Sher Mohammed Zazai. The intelligence official’s driver was killed.

NATO and Afghan forces were continuing to consolidate security gains in neighboring Helmand province, where U.S. Marines led a broad anti-Taliban operation in Marjah earlier this year, officials said.

Southern Afghanistan is the birthplace of the Taliban and has been the hub of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks between militants and coalition forces and troops of President Hamid Karzai’s government.

The Interior Ministry said Sunday police officers came under attack from insurgents a day earlier while working to defuse a roadside bomb in eastern Paktia province. The ministry said one militant was killed and two others arrested after a gunbattle.

Also Sunday, the appellate court of the Afghan Criminal Justice Task Force reported that drug-traffickers from the provinces of Nangarhar, Herat, Kapisa, Helmand, Panjshir, Kunar, Kandahar and Wardak were fined and sentenced to prison last week.

When they were arrested, authorities confiscated heroin, opium and more than 68 gallons (258 liters) of liquid chemicals used in making narcotics. Each was sentenced to up to 18 years in prison and fined up to $60,000.

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