- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN (AP) - A roadside bomb hit a convoy carrying the mayor of a key southern city Sunday, killing a passer-by, while clashes and bombings around the rest of Afghanistan killed 13 others, officials said.

The mayor of Kandahar survived the blast, which killed a civilian and wounded two others, said Najibullah Khan, a police spokesman.

Meanwhile, a suicide bomber on foot in the capital of Kabul killed two Afghan civilians Sunday, said Lt. Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahman, Kabul’s police chief.

The bomber _ who had been targeting a NATO patrol _ also wounded 14 other civilians, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. No foreign troops were wounded or killed, the statement said.

Separately, U.S. coalition and Afghan special forces conducting a raid in Kandahar’s Maywand district _ aimed at a network supporting foreign fighters in the area _ killed five militants “who maneuvered on the force … during the operation,” a U.S. military statement said.

Southern Afghanistan is the center of the Taliban-led insurgency, which has made a comeback the last three years after what appeared to be an initial defeat following the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Thousands of new U.S. troops are joining British, Canadian and Dutch forces in the region to battle insurgents and extend governance.

In eastern Afghanistan, meanwhile, a French soldier and five Afghan troops were killed during a clash with militants in Kapisa province, officials said.

Cmdr. Christophe Prazuck, spokesman for France’s Defense Ministry, said Saturday’s operation involved air support from Predator drones and other allied aircraft, and that dozens of militants “were hit hard.” He didn’t provide casualty estimates.

France has 3,300 troops fighting in NATO- and U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan.

Rahmatullah Safi, Kapisa’s deputy governor, said five Afghan soldiers were also killed in the operation.


Associated Press reporter Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.

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