AMIR SHAH Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan Southern Afghanistan will see “significant fighting” for several months as coalition troops push ahead with a major offensive to crush a resurgent Taliban force, the U.S. military said today. A roadside bomb hit a military convoy today in southern Kandahar province, injuring four Canadian soldiers, one of them seriously, said coalition spokesman Maj. Quentin Innis. Two Afghan men have been detained in connection with the blast, which occurred around 8 a.m. as the troops patrolled the Shahwali Kot district, he said. Separately, a suicide attacker hit a military convoy in the city of Kandahar, killing at least three civilian bystanders and wounding a coalition soldier, said Afghan army commander Gen. Rahmatullah Roufi. Coalition soldiers fired on an unmarked police car at a checkpoint Tuesday in eastern Kunar province, killing three policemen and wounding three, coalition spokesman Col. Tom Collins said. Coalition and Afghan forces conducted raids Tuesday in southern Helmand and Uruzgan provinces, killing 30 insurgents, Afghan and coalition forces said. Operation Mountain Thrust began in earnest last week with more than 10,000 Afghan, British, Canadian and American troops deploying throughout four southern provinces in the largest military operation since the Taliban regime was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001. More than 600 people, mostly militants, have been killed in the past month as insurgents have launched their deadliest campaign of violence in years. At least 10 coalition soldiers have been killed in combat since mid- May. “People should expect significant fighting in certain areas of the south over the coming months,” Collins said during a press briefing in the capital, Kabul. “That’s the whole purpose of Mountain Thrust ... to go into the area where the government doesn’t have a presence right now and take the threat out of those areas,” he said.
U. S.-led soldiers and Afghan troops killed 20 insurgents Tuesday near Musa Qala, a remote town in mountainous Helmand province, Afghan army commander Gen. Rahmatullah Roufi said. One Afghan soldier was wounded. Coalition forces received information that insurgents had gathered there for a meeting and surrounded the area, Roufi said. Military officials recovered all 20 Taliban bodies, along with 22 AK- 47s, seven rocket-propelled grenades and three heavy machine guns. In neighboring Uruzgan, coalition troops pursued militants seeking cover Tuesday in the Char Chine Valley of Shahidi Hassas district, killing 10, the coalition said in a statement. Soldiers also confiscated roadside bombs and small arms ammunition. There were no coalition casualties. In a separate incident near Musa Qala, coalition and Afghan troops fought more than 30 militants who fled into a nearby village for cover, the coalition said. A U.S. soldier and Afghan soldier were wounded. The Afghan police were shot Tuesday when a car approached a checkpoint in Kunar province without slowing down, Collins said. Coalition soldiers saw that the occupants, who were not in uniform, were armed and “felt they were in immediate danger so they opened fire on the vehicle,” he said. Collins said the U.S.-led coalition “regrets the incident.”