Taliban claims responsibility for death of prison official, bomb blast in Afghanistan

KABUL (AP) — Three NATO service members and three Afghan policemen were killed in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, officials said, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for assassinating a senior prison official.

A suicide bomber attacked an Afghan police vehicle in the Dihrawud district of Uruzgan province, killing three policemen, said Gulab Khan, the criminal investigation director in the province.

Among the three coalition service members killed was Sgt. Maj. Valerica Leu, who died of injuries sustained in a morning mine explosion, according to Romanian defense officials. Romania has about 1,120 troops in Afghanistan — mostly in the restive south. Romania has lost 13 service members in the country.

A U.S. service member died following a small-arms attack also in the south, said Col. Wayne Shanks, a U.S. military spokesman. He would not provide more details, pending notification of the service member's family.

NATO reported a third coalition troop was killed in the south. Shanks said that service member was also American.

Eighteen NATO service members have died in Afghanistan this month.

Also Wednesday, attackers on motorcycles shot and killed the No. 2 prison official in the southern province of Kandahar, Afghan government officials said. Two officials said Kandahar deputy prison administrator Nabi Gul was gunned down in the Dand Chawk neighborhood of the provincial capital shortly after he left for work. The Taliban said they carried out the attack.

Across town, a bomb exploded near a police training center, injuring at least three people, said Zulmai Ayubi, a spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the group conducted that attack too.

NATO and Afghan forces are pouring into the area for a key operation this summer in Kandahar, the spiritual birthplace of the former Taliban regime that is leading an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai's government.

NATO said several suspected militants were detained by an allied and Afghan force during a search for a Taliban commander Tuesday in neighboring Helmand province, the site of a major NATO operation earlier this year.

In the Mizan district of southern Zabul province, a rocket fired in clashes Tuesday between allied and Taliban fighters hit a civilian home, killing two girls and injuring a mother and son, said Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

NATO did not immediately comment on that incident.

In southeast Afghanistan, three explosions struck Khost province on Wednesday. Five people were injured when a bomb exploded in an ice cream shop in the provincial capital, the Interior Ministry said. No one was injured in the other two explosions — one near a university in Khost city and the other in a remote area of the Mando Zayi district west of the provincial capital, the ministry said.


Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.