KABUL, Afghanistan – A suspected Taliban (search) rebel leader died in recent heavy fighting in eastern Afghanistan (search), the U.S. military said Friday, and an American soldier was reported killed in a training accident.
A bomb exploded at a market in the southern city of Kandahar, wounding a child and three adults and damaging several shops.
The blast comes amid a spate of combat and terror attacks that has killed more than 900 people since March with a surge in activity by suspected Taliban rebels, whose government was ousted by U.S.-led forces at the end of 2001.
Qari Amadullah, believed to have led up to 50 Taliban militants armed with rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, died in a firefight Tuesday with Afghan and U.S. forces near the city of Wazikwa in Paktika province, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Amadullah's name is the same as that of the Taliban regime's former intelligence chief, but Afghan and U.S. officials were unable to confirm it was the same person.
Five other militants were killed and three U.S. soldiers were wounded during the clash in an area where Afghan and U.S. forces were hunting suspected Taliban insurgent leaders, the statement said.
On Thursday, an American soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an explosives training accident in central Uruzgan province, the military said. It was the seventh U.S. fatality in Afghanistan in eight days. The soldier's name was withheld pending notification of kin.
The two wounded Americans were evacuated for medical treatment at Bagram Airfield, the main U.S. base north of the capital, Kabul.
In Kandahar, a bomb exploded at Rangrazal market Friday afternoon, wounding two men, a woman and a child, provincial police chief Abdul Malik Wahidi said. The blast occurred outside clothing and shoe shops that had opened for a half-day on the Muslim sabbath, he said.
Officials have warned that violence probably will intensify before landmark legislative elections scheduled for next month, seen as a crucial milestone in Afghanistan's effort to establish a democracy after more than two decades of war and civil strife.
In other violence, suspected Taliban guerrillas ambushed a vehicle carrying police in southern Zabul province's Arghandab district, sparking a gunbattle that killed three militants — including a local commander — and wounded two policemen, said the Zabul governor's spokesman, Ali Khail. Police also captured weapons, he said.
In southern Helmand province (search), 180 police officers conducting a four-day operation in the mountains arrested two suspected Taliban insurgents and dismantled what appeared to be an abandoned rebel camp, provincial police chief Abdul Rehman Sadir said. Police found teapots, blankets and food that likely were left by rebels who fled before police arrived, he said.