- Associated Press - Monday, October 17, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber on foot struck the convoy of a northern Afghanistan provincial intelligence chief Monday, killing a young boy and wounding the official, the region’s deputy governor said.

Officials also said Monday that Taliban insurgents shot dead five Afghan soldiers the day before in the west of the country.

The suicide bomber struck the convoy of Gen. Sayed Ahmad Sadat at 8:30 a.m. as he was driving by on his way to work in Maimanah, capital of Faryab province, provincial Deputy Gov. Abdul Satar Barez said.

Mr. Barez said a bystander, a young boy about 3 years old, was killed while Gen. Sadat and four of his bodyguards were wounded.

The province largely has seen less violence than Afghanistan‘s restive south and regions along the eastern border with Pakistan, areas where the Taliban has deeper roots and has waged a particularly fierce campaign against U.S.-led forces that have been battling them in the decade-long war.

The attack in Faryab came a day after five Afghan soldiers and three insurgents were killed in violence throughout the country.

The Taliban attacked a group of Afghan soldiers in the western province of Farah, killing five of the troops, said Dr. Jabar Shahiq, the province’s health director.

Dr. Shahiq said all five of the soldiers, who came under attack Sunday afternoon, were shot. He had no other details about the attack.

The Taliban routinely attacks both NATO troops in the country and Afghan military and security forces, which the U.S.-led coalition has been training. The insurgents also target Afghan officials and others loyal to the government of President Hamid Karzai.

NATO is aiming to withdraw its combat forces from the country by the end of 2014.

NATO also said an insurgent was killed in Faryab’s Ghormach district on Sunday during a joint operation it conducted with Afghan forces. The operation was searching for a Taliban leader in the area, NATO said.

In the restive south, a Taliban leader and his associate were killed on Sunday in a precision airstrike in Zabul province, the coalition said on Monday, adding that the target of the operation was responsible for roadside bombings and ambush attacks on Afghan forces in the province.

Separately, a joint Afghan-NATO patrol seized 200 pounds of opium and 220 pounds of ammonium nitrate, which is used in both for explosives and as a fertilizer, in Helmand province. The Taliban use drug sales to partly fund its operations.

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