Afghan Officials: Suicide Bomber Kills 6 in HelmandBy VOA News
20 June 2008

Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has killed at least five civilians and one U.S.-led coalition soldier in the southern province of Helmand.

Provincial police chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said the bomber targeted a convoy of U.S.-led coalition troops Friday as they passed through the town of Gereshk.

Coalition forces say two other soldiers were killed during operations in Helmand on Thursday.

In neighboring Kandahar province on Thursday, Afghan and NATO forces claimed a major victory against Taliban insurgents.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said at least 56 militants were killed in an offensive that began Wednesday in Arghandab district.

The spokesman said two Afghan soldiers died and two were wounded in the operation.

NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carlos Branco told VOA the operation is continuing and is expected to last for few more days to make sure that the militant threat in the area is eliminated.

NATO and Afghan forces were deployed to Kandahar province after local officials said hundreds of Taliban took over several communities earlier this week.

A Taliban spokesman said the fighters wanted to take over Arghandab to launch attacks on the strategic city of Kandahar.

U.S. and NATO officials have repeatedly downplayed the presence and strength of Taliban in Arghandab, denying reports that the fighters had taken over villages, planted land mines and bombed bridges in the area.

voa news