Airstrike Kills 3 Militants in Afghanistan; NATO Kills 1 Civilian

A NATO patrol shot at a vehicle and killed one civilian in southern Afghanistan, while an airstrike in the same region left three armed militants dead, officials said Thursday.

The NATO patrol shot at the fast approaching vehicle in Kandahar province after its driver did not heed the soldiers' warnings to stop, the alliance said in a statement.

"As a result, one civilian was killed and three were injured," the statement said.

NATO said its troops followed its rules of engagement, shooting in self-defense at the car near Kandahar airfield, the main military base in the region. It also said the investigation into the incident was launched.

Separately, an airstrike Wednesday north of Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province, left three armed militants dead, deputy provincial chief Amanullah Khan said.

In neighboring Helmand province, meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition troops killed several insurgents during a Tuesday raid targeting a Taliban commander in Kajaki district, the coalition said in a statement.

The insurgents fired on the coalition soldiers and the troops returned fire, killing "a number" of militants and detaining four others, the statement said.

"As an added measure of safety, coalition forces temporarily relocated the compound's noncombatants to protect them from hostilities taking place," Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman, said in the statement.

Compounds in the region are usually walled areas with several mud-brick houses where extended families live.

The military said there were no civilian or coalition casualties during the raid.

Helmand, the biggest opium poppy-producing region in the world, has been the arena of the bloodiest battles between international troops and insurgents.

More than 8,000 people were killed in the insurgency in 2007, the deadliest year since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

In eastern Kunar province, a truck supplying fuel to NATO troops hit a roadside bomb that killed the Afghan driver Thursday morning, said a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

No NATO service members were hurt in the attack, it said.