- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan | About 50 civilians, security forces and militants were killed in a wave of violence around Afghanistan, including a bomb that left 14 Afghan travelers dead in one of the country’s most dangerous regions. Five American soldiers died in two attacks involving roadside bombs.

The attacks Friday and Saturday reached a broad swath of the country, demonstrating the spread of the Taliban insurgency, which had been largely confined to the country’s south and east in the years after the 2001 U.S. invasion. Half of those killed in the most recent attacks were civilians, who often find themselves caught in the grinding war between the Taliban and U.S. and NATO forces.

Bombs caused most of Saturday’s casualties, including homemade blasts in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar and a neighboring province that together killed 20 civilians.

A roadside bomb and gunfire attack in western Afghanistan killed three Americans, while another roadside bomb killed two Americans in the east, said Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, a spokesman for the U.S. military command in Kabul. No other details were available.

Taliban militants also staged ambushes and suicide attacks - and came under attack themselves.

Coalition and Afghan forces on Saturday killed 11 militants during an overnight raid in northern Kunduz province, said Abdul Razaq Yaqoubi, the provincial police chief.

The operation targeted Taliban fighters who helped foreign fighters and suicide bombers infiltrate the region, said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a U.S. military spokeswoman.

She said “a number” of militants were killed after the forces exchanged fire. Roadside bomb-making material, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenades were found at the compound, she said.

In Kabul, the capital, an American service member and an Afghan police officer got into an argument because the American was drinking water in front of Afghan police, who are not eating or drinking during the day because of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, said the district chief, Abdul Baqi Zemari.

The police officer shot the American and seriously wounded him, while other American troops responded and seriously wounded the police officer, Mr. Zemari said.

Lt. Robert Carr, a U.S. military spokesman, confirmed an incident between Afghan police officers and a U.S. police mentoring team. He could not provide information on the conditions of the two men.

Authorities reported a string of deadly militant attacks in the south and east.

In Kandahar, two suicide bombers on a motorbike tried to attack an office of the country’s intelligence agency on Saturday. Officers and the bombers traded gunfire. One bomber blew himself up and killed an intelligence officer, while the other bomber’s explosives went off but didn’t kill anyone, said Kandahar deputy provincial police Chief Fazel Hamid Sherzad.

A Taliban ambush killed six private security guards working for a construction company in the eastern province of Kunar on Saturday, said Gen. Khalilullah Ziayi, the provincial police chief. Ten guards were wounded, he said.

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