- Associated Press - Friday, November 12, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide car bomber blew himself up as a NATO convoy passed by his vehicle on the outskirts of the Afghan capital on Friday, wounding two troops, officials said.

The Afghan Defense Ministry said an Afghan soldier and a NATO service member were wounded in the blast. NATO confirmed the attack took place but did not say whether there were any casualties. The driver of the car was killed in the blast, the Defense Ministry said.

“According to initial reports the vehicle-borne IED exploded when an International Security Assistance Force convoy passed the vehicle,” NATO said in a statement.

Although suicide bomb attacks are becoming commonplace in southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, where NATO is fighting the Taliban, increased security has made them less frequent in the capital.

In eastern Afghanistan, a NATO service member was killed in an insurgent attack, the coalition said. Neither the nationality of the service member nor any other details were released. So far this year, 626 U.S. and international troops have died in Afghanistan, according to a count by the Associated Press.

NATO said that in the southern part of the country, at least 15 insurgents were killed by in a fierce round of fighting in Helmand province and 15 other militants were detained during three overnight operations targeting Taliban leaders across Afghanistan.

The heavy fighting erupted Thursday in Sangin district after a member of a joint Afghan and coalition patrol was struck by a homemade bomb, the coalition said. Insurgents continued to attack as a coalition helicopter evacuated casualties. The coalition force called in air support and the insurgents were killed by missiles, a 30mm cannon and artillery fire.

Also in Helmand, a joint force captured several suspected insurgents in Musa Qala district Thursday while going after a senior Taliban leader known for trafficking in weapons and explosives.

Afghan and NATO troops continue to battle a resilient insurgency in Helmand province while Afghan officials work to improve governance and rush development into the region.

In neighboring Kandahar province, Afghan and coalition forces detained other suspected insurgents in Panjawi district while pursuing a member of the Taliban suspected of transporting bomb parts and other weapons between Pakistan and Kandahar, the largest city in the south.

In the third operation, which was conducted in Khost province in the east, security forces also detained insurgents while looking for a member of the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network who supplies weapons, vehicles and materials to militant fighters in the area.

In total, 15 suspects were apprehended in the overnight operations, NATO said.

The coalition also reported that two Taliban bomb makers were captured Thursday in an area of Kandahar province near the Pakistan border where NATO has been trying to disrupt insurgent supply routes. Through intelligence tips, the coalition tracked the two to a compound in Spin Boldak where they were apprehended. Numerous bomb components, including detonation switches, were confiscated at the site.

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