KABUL, Afghanistan – KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Three NATO service members were killed in two bomb blasts and more than 30 insurgents died in a clash with coalition troops in eastern Afghanistan, the military alliance said Saturday.
NATO also said it captured an insurgent commander linked to attacks on Afghan officials and violence during last weekend's parliamentary elections, and killed another.
In a statement Saturday, NATO said two service members were killed by a bomb blast in the east, but did not provide further details. It said another died in a separate blast in the south. The nationalities of NATO casualties are not generally released until after next of kin are notified.
This year is already the deadliest of the war, with 531 international forces killed as of Saturday.
Also in the east, more than 30 insurgents were killed during an operation involving a combined force of about 250 Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, and coalition soldiers in Alishing district of Laghman province. No civilians were harmed during the operation, NATO said.
Afghan and coalition security forces detained several insurgents in Khost province, along the Pakistan border, on Friday, including a Haqqani commander linked to attacks against Afghan officials, NATO said. It said the commander was also involved in ambushing a vehicle and stealing a ballot box during last week's elections.
The Haqqani network is a Pakistan-based faction of the Taliban with close ties to al-Qaida.
The arrests led to the seizure of bomb-making material and military equipment, including an automatic weapon, pistol, rocket-propelled grenade launcher, magazines and loose ammunition — along with three U.S. combat uniforms similar to those recently used in attacks against a coalition base, NATO said.
An airstrike killed a Taliban commander who helped conduct bomb attacks and was directly linked to last week's election violence, NATO said.
Election day on Sept. 18 was marred by rocket attacks and bombings at polling stations in volatile areas. At least 21 civilians and nine police officers were killed during the voting, according to the election commission and Interior Ministry.