NATO, Afghan forces detain insurgent leaders

NATO and Afghan forces captured leaders of an insurgent group in eastern Afghanistan, including one believed to be linked to last month's suicide attack on a Kabul supermarket, the coalition said Thursday. Insurgent attacks elsewhere killed three, including a NATO service member.

The detainees were identified as members of Hizb-i-Islami, a militant group made up of loyalists of regional warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Among those captured was the group's Kabul-based "media emir" — typically a senior official responsible for disseminating propaganda. He was arrested Wednesday in Parwan province.

NATO said the media emir, who was not identified, has ties to multiple militant groups, including the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Taliban, and was involved in suicide bombings in November and January. The most recent blast killed eight people in the Western-style Finest supermarket near embassies in the Afghan capital.

The coalition said another leader of Hizb-i-Islami was captured nearby. A third top official in the group, responsible for commanding about 50 fighters, was captured in a separate raid in Khost province, NATO said.

Also in Khost, the multinational force said it killed a member of the Haqqani network, a group with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaida, in an airstrike. NATO identified the insurgent as Salem and said he was the leader of a bomb-making cell.

Insurgents killed a member of the U.S.-led multinational force in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday. NATO didn't specify where the service member was killed. No nationality was provided.

A total of 17 international service members have been killed so far this month. Last year was the deadliest of the nearly decade-long war for international troops, with more than 700 killed, compared to just more than 500 in 2009.

The U.S. plans to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July. NATO soldiers are scheduled to pull out of the country by 2014, handing over responsibility for the country's security to Afghan forces.

A roadside bomb targeting an Afghan police patrol killed one policeman and a farmer in the Chahar Dara district in the country's northern Kunduz province, said district police chief Gulam Mohyuddin.

Security has been deteriorating in Kunduz and across northern Afghanistan as NATO and Afghan forces concentrate much of their efforts on the Taliban heartland in the south and east of the country. A suicide bomber killed the Chahar Dara district chief and two others in his office last week.

Elsewhere, coalition forces said they detained two insurgents suspected of making and deploying pressure-plate bombs designed to target NATO and Afghan forces in Kandahar province. The arrests were part of a counterinsurgency sweep of the province's Zhari district that included clearing more than 30 buildings believed to be used by insurgents, the coalition said.

A person suspected of aiding the Taliban and other suspected insurgents was captured in Kandahar city. NATO said the person is believed to have received information about a suicide attack there earlier this month that killed a retired U.S. customs worker.

In the capital Kabul, an Afghan National Police officer was killed when he was hit by a NATO convoy in a traffic circle near the U.S. Embassy, coalition and Afghan officials said. American soldiers could be seen at the site of the accident shortly afterward helping clean up a pool of blood on the side of the road. NATO said it is investigating.


Associated Press writer Amir Shah contributed reporting.

(This version corrects to say district chief killed last week in Kunduz).)