Wed, Feb 21, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Taliban take lives, but lose a capital

INSURGENCY The Afghan parliament also passed a law that would exonerate war crimes, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai has indicated he would not support it

AFP , KHOST AND KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

A US soldier walks in the snow at a forwarding base in Orgun-E in eastern Afghanistan yesterday. Orgun-E is one of the largest of about a dozen similar bases along the eastern border with Pakistan and across southern Afghanistan that are still engaged in combat operations.

PHOTO: AP

A suicide bomber dressed as a doctor wounded a US soldier at an Afghan hospital yesterday, while officials said a US and Afghan soldier died in other suspected Taliban-linked violence.

The attacker tried to enter a room at the hospital in eastern Khost city where doctors were meeting with the provincial governor and soldiers from a NATO-led force, officials said.

Hospital staff became suspicious when they did not recognize him as a doctor, chief doctor Abdul Majid Mangal said.

"An American soldier tried to stop him but he refused and blew himself up. One soldier was wounded," police colonel Mohammad Yaquob said.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed a suicide attack involving its forces but had no details.

There was no claim of responsibility but most suicide blasts here last year were linked to the extremist Taliban movement waging an insurgency after being toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001.

The US-led coalition, which works alongside ISAF and Afghan security forces, meanwhile said a US soldier was killed near the border with Pakistan on Monday, the 10th to die in Afghanistan this year.

The Afghan defense ministry said one of its soldiers was killed and two others wounded on Monday when a unit was attacked in the eastern province of Nuristan, also near the border.

The forces retaliated, demolishing a hideout and capturing three "enemies," it said. It was not clear if the US soldier was killed in the same incident.

In other insurgency-linked unrest, the coalition said it bombed a cave on Monday in the southeastern province of Uruzgan into which Taliban fighters had retreated.

"Afghan and coalition forces were engaged by Taliban insurgents ... while clearing an improvised explosive device.

"The combined force engaged the insurgents with heavy weapons fire causing the Taliban to retreat into a cave. Coalition forces dropped one 2,000-pound [907kg] bomb on the cave, sealing it off," it said.

There was no indication of Taliban casualties, but the force said no civilians or soldiers were hurt.

In the west, Afghan security forces supported by their international counterparts easily retook a small district capital that was stormed and captured by about 300 Taliban overnight on Monday, the government said.

The town of Bakwa in the western province of Farah was again under government control and security reinforcements were there, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.

The Taliban have held the southern town of Musa Qala for more than two weeks. Authorities say they are waiting for the right time to retake the area.

WAR CRIMES

Meanwhile, the upper house of Afghanistan's parliament yesterday approved a controversial bill that would rule out any legal proceedings for war crimes committed during the country's years of conflict.

The lower house of parliament approved the bill about a month ago, prompting an outcry from rights groups and opposition parliamentarians, who said it was unconstitutional.

The document would still need to be approved by President Hamid Karzai to become law.

A presidential spokesman has said previously that Karzai is unlikely to accept it.

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