KABUL, Afghanistan – Three U.S. soldiers were wounded, one of them critically, when Afghan insurgents attacked their vehicle with rockets and guns, the American military said Monday.
The military also announced the capture of more than five Taliban (search) leaders, and confirmed the death of a rebel commander who had been released from the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The American soldiers were hurt when militants attacked the vehicle Saturday morning near Qalat, the capital of the troubled southeastern province of Zabul (search), a military statement said.
It said the three wounded soldiers were evacuated to a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany for treatment. One soldier was in critical condition and the other two were in stable condition.
Zabul is a focus of operations for the 18,000-strong American-led force battling Taliban insurgents and other anti-government militias across the south and east of Afghanistan.
More than 900 people have died in violence across the country so far this year. U.S. and Afghan officials say militants are stepping up attacks in an attempt to disrupt Oct. 9 presidential elections.
U.S. and Afghan forces captured "more than five" Taliban leaders in operations since Saturday, the statement said. No details of their identity was released.
The military also confirmed the killing of Abdul Ghaffar, a rebel commander in the Taliban stronghold of central Uruzgan province.
Afghan officials say that Ghaffar, who died along with two other suspects in a gunbattle Saturday night, rejoined the rebels after being released from Guantanamo Bay.
Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said on Sunday that Ghaffar was captured shortly after the U.S. bombing campaign which pushed the Taliban from power in late 2001, but released about eight months later.
The U.S. military also said U.S.-led forces had rounded up more than 10 "Taliban facilitators" in the southeast, disrupting the guerrillas ability to plan and conduct raids.