More than 70 people have been killed in two days of fighting in southern and western Afghanistan, including 58 suspected Taliban fighters, 13 Afghan National Police officers, a female Canadian military officer and a US engineer, coalition forces and Afghan security officials said yesterday.
Yesterday morning a US contractor was killed after a suicide car bomber hit his vehicle in Afghanistan's western province of Herat, US officials said.
The contractor was engaged in a police training project in Herat, US embassy spokesman Christopher Harris said. Earlier, local police had reported that an Italian soldier was killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Yousif Ahmadi, who claims to be the spokesman for the rebels.
On Wednesday, the death of Canada's first female soldier in Afghanistan came hours before the Canadian parliament voted to extend their nation's military mission in the country to 2009.
She died in a firefight in Kandahar's Panj-Wayee district, Canadian military spokesman Quentin Innis said.
Also killed in the battle were 18 suspected Taliban members. Innis said yesterday morning that the battle was continuing.
Thirty-five Taliban fighters have been detained in the operation, he added.
In Wednesday's fighting in Helmand, insurgents attacked Afghan police in the Musa Qala district, triggering a battle that killed 40 insurgents and 13 police, said Yousif Stanikzai, spokesman for the Afghan interior minister.
"The fighting continued until early [yesterday]," Stanikzai said, adding that 10 of the insurgents were arrested and two police officers were missing.
The vote in the Canadian parliament to extend the country's Afghan mission for two years came during a difficult week for its troops with Wednesday's death and the wounding of two Canadian soldiers on Monday in a roadside bomb, also in Kandahar. Another roadside bomb killed four Canadians in April.
Kandahar was once the main stronghold of the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and is still a Taliban hotbed.
About 2,200 Canadian troops are based in Kandahar as part of the US-led coalition forces.
also see story:
Canadian parliament backs extended Afghan mission