KABUL: A suicide attack in southeastern Afghanistan killed six guards working for a road construction company, as nearly 50 Taliban insurgents and one NATO soldier were killed elsewhere, officials said Friday.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at the Sky construction company in the Jadran district of Paktia province, said local governor Abdul Wali Jadran.
"Six security guards of the company were killed and another three were wounded in the blast," he told AFP.
Separately, NATO and Afghan soldiers killed a Taliban commander and 19 of his men in an overnight operation in western Herat province, said Jalandar Shah Behnam, the Afghan army corp commander for western Afghanistan.
The operation was launched after a tip-off about the whereabouts of the hideout of Ghulam Yahya Akbari, who he described as a local Taliban commander.
"The joint forces killed Akbari and his men in a firefight. We were supported by NATO helicopters but no air strike was needed," he said.
Akbari was a former anti-Soviet fighter who served as Herat major before the Taliban took over the country, after which he joined the anti-Taliban resistance from 1996 until they were overthrown in a US-led invasion in 2001.
He was director of public works for the province in the years immediately following the Taliban's overthrow, but turned against the government three years ago.
Without naming him, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Akbari was known to be responsible for conducting roadside bomb attacks against foreign troops and kidnapping Afghan civilians.
Rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, ammunition and hand grenades were among weapons seized from his compound, it added in a statement.
Two similar operations were carried out in southern Wardak and Kandahar provinces against "Taliban facilitators," the statement said.
An Afghan army commander told AFP that seven militants were killed in Wardak, including their leader Mullah Yasin.
"One ISAF member died of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device strike on October 8, in southern Afghanistan," the NATO statement said, without elaborating.
Taliban militants attacked a joint Afghan police and Swedish NATO forces in Chahar Bolak district of northern Balkh province and similarly the Afghan police patrols in southern Ghazni and eastern Kunar provinces over night.
Three militants were killed after the insurgents attacked in Chahar Bolak district, the deputy provincial police chief said.
In Chapa Dara district, Kunar province, 13 Taliban were killed and 14 were wounded in a seven-hour fire fight that broke out when the insurgents attacked police, the interior ministry said in a statement.
Four militants were killed and five were wounded in Ghazni province Friday in an attack repelled by Afghan police, who often function as an auxilliary paramilitary force, it said.
Eight years after the Taliban regime was ousted, the militants are spreading their web from their southern power base to the relatively peaceful north and west of the country, prompting a call for reinforcements and strategy rethink.
ISAF said Friday that troops had been repositioned from two remote outposts in Nuristan province, where last weekend eight US soldiers were killed in a militant strike, to other areas in the east.
The coalition maintained that "despite Taliban claims, the movement of troops and equipment from the outposts are part of a previously scheduled transfer" and tallied with a move towards counter-insurgency in urban areas.