KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban militants attacked a government office in southern Afghanistan, sparking a gunbattle that left five people dead, including a rebel commander, an Afghan official said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said an Afghan killed during a raid on Sunday in which an American soldier also died was a drug trafficker with ties to the fugitive Taliban leadership.
Gov. Khial Mohammed identified the Taliban (search) commander killed in the latest battle as Abdul Razzak (search) and said he had organized many operations in the province, which has been a focus of resistance against government and U.S. forces.
He said it was not the man of the same name who served as interior minister under the former Taliban government and is believed to have taken refuge in neighboring Pakistan after the hardline movement's ouster three years ago.
The clash began when militants attacked the mayor's office in the Atghar district of Zabul, close to the Pakistani border, on Monday morning. Militia soldiers guarding the office shot dead four suspected Taliban, including Razzak, while one soldier also died, Mohammed said.
The rebels withdrew before U.S. forces arrived at the scene, leaving behind the bodies of the victims as well as assault rifles, machine-guns and grenades, the governor said.
A U.S. military spokeswoman said she had no information about the incident.
Militants regularly attack government and U.S. forces close to the mountainous frontier with Pakistan. An ambush in the eastern province of Kunar on Monday left one American soldier dead and three others wounded.
The U.S. military said Sunday's raid in western Herat province was aimed at Mullah Dost Mohammed (search), "a known Taliban facilitator and narco-trafficker with ties to senior Taliban leaders."
"He was the target of this operation because of evidence linking him to attacks on coalition forces in Helmand, Kandahar, and Herat provinces since March of last year," spokesman Maj. Mark McCann said.
The military says Mohammed was killed after he fatally shot a U.S. special operations soldier searching his home.
In another incident, McCann said U.S. troops detained a man carrying a bag containing five sticks of dynamite, two kilos of explosives and other bomb-making materials on Monday in Qalat, the capital of Zabul.