Published October 10, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan – Roadside bombs killed eleven people including two NATO troops in Afghanistan, and a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle near a military convoy, killing a child and wounding two others.
Also Sunday, the Afghan government named former President Burhanuddin Rabbani as chief of a new peace council tasked with talking to insurgent groups.
Daily violence continues unabated throughout much of Afghanistan. The focus of the U.S.-led war -- which entered its 10th year last week -- has been on the south, but coalition troops are increasingly fighting resilient militants in the east, west and north.
Five members of a family were among nine people -- including women and children -- who died in a roadside bombing in eastern Paktia province's Zurmat district Sunday.
"The Taliban have complete disregard for innocent women and children. We condemn their indiscriminate killing in the strongest terms," said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres.
Two NATO service members were killed in a blast on a highway in southern Afghanistan, NATO said, without giving their nationalities or a specific location. On Saturday, four Italian troops died in a roadside blast in western Farah province.
Sunday's deaths brought to 26 the number of NATO forces killed this month. At least 2,014 NATO service members have died since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, according to an Associated Press count.
A joint force was ambushed with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in southern Helmand province's Sangin district Sunday, NATO said. Troops returned fire and called in an airstrike, killing more than 15 insurgents.
The suicide car bombing occurred in eastern Khost province's Mandozai district, killing a child bystander while only slightly damaging a NATO vehicle.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Sunday that the recently formed peace council had selected Rabbani as its chairman. Karzai praised their choice, saying Rabbani's leadership would be "good for Afghanistan."
Rabbani was one of a group of mujahedeen leaders who fought the Soviets in the 1980s. He was Afghanistan's president between 1992 and 1996, when he was ousted by the Taliban.
The 70-member panel, which formally began work on Thursday, was created by Karzai to have a structure in place to guide talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
"How much longer can we wait for foreigners to establish security for us? How much longer can we witness explosions in our mosques and see our leaders killed?" Rabbani said as he accepted the position. "Peace will come when we cooperate."
Publicly, the Taliban have said they won't negotiate until foreign troops leave the country, yet many Taliban leaders have reached out directly or indirectly to the highest levels of the Afghan government. There have been no formal negotiations yet between the Afghan government and the Taliban, only some contacts and signals from each side, according to Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar.
NATO said Sunday that intelligence sources tracked a Taliban commander -- identified as Mullah Jamaluddin -- as he traveled in western Badghis province's Murghab district Saturday. A gunbattle erupted and the Taliban leader and two militants were killed.
"Jamaluddin was a very important person who received support from much of the local community," provincial spokesman Sharaf Uddin Majidi told the AP. "His death will certainly lead to increased peace and stability."
Another Taliban leader, Ajmal Agha Jan, also died Saturday in Helmand's Marjah district after he pulled a pistol on a joint force that raided his compound, NATO said.
Six senior Taliban were killed in operations in western Badghis and neighboring Faryab province over the past two weeks, NATO said.
The Taliban has accused NATO of engaging in a propaganda campaign to demoralize the insurgents by inventing militant leaders and alleging they were killed or captured.