Mon, Aug 07, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Car bomb in south Afghanistan wounds US soldier

FINAL JOURNEY The bodies of four Canadian soldiers killed on Thursday were being flown home yesterday, as NATO solidifies its command over operations in the south

AFP , KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN

One of the 10 Canadian soldiers injured in fighting on Thursday in southern Afghanistan sits in a wheelchair as four of his slain comrades are sent home on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

A US soldier was wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded yesterday near a military convoy in southern Afghanistan, officials and witnesses said.

The explosion took place just east of Kandahar city on the main highway to the capital Kabul, and Afghan and foreign troops had cordoned off the area as helicopters were flying towards the site.

"One American soldier has been wounded in the blast," Mohammad Anwar, an Afghan highway police official at the site, told reporters.

"It was a car bomb suicide attack involving American troops. We don't know the identity of the attacker yet," he said.

The spokesman for the NATO-led troops in Kandahar, Major Scott Lundy, confirmed the explosion involved a military convoy but could not confirm the casualties.

No reports

"There was an explosion in Kanda-har city at approximately 11:45am. The explosion occurred near a military convoy. We have no reports at this point of casualties," he said.

"We are still dealing with the situation right now. It appears to be a car bomb but we don't know if it was suicide bomb or not," he said.

NATO took command of south Afghanistan from the US-led coalition last week.

Mohammad Hadi, a witness at the site, said a minibus approached the "Americans" and that an explosion then took place.

The remnants of the ousted Taliban regime have stepped up an insurgency in south and southeastern Afghanistan this year.

The Taliban were forced from power in late 2001 by a US-led invasion of the country following the Sept. 11 attacks on the US.

Flown home

In related news, the bodies of four Canadian soldiers killed in the south of country were being flown home yesterday, as insurgents killed two police in the west, officials said.

Four suspected Taliban used rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns in the attack in Murghab district of the western Badghis Province before fleeing, said provincial deputy police chief Abdull Amid.

The bodies of the four Canadians were put on a military flight back to Canada late on Saturday, two days after they were killed in the volatile southern Kandahar province, Lundy said.

The deaths were Canada's worst loss since April 22, when four soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in the same province.

Taking charge

NATO-led troops have suffered eight fatalities since taking control of the south last week. Five were Canadians. Militants have stepped up their attacks against Afghan and NATO-led forces in recent months.

Before NATO took charge of security in the south, US-led troops conducted a six-week offensive aimed at expanding the reach of the Kabul government into the region.

More than 1,100 suspected Taliban militants were killed, wounded or captured during the operation, the coalition said in a statement on Friday.

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