Roadside Bomb Kills 2 Afghan Civilians

The Associated Press
Thursday, August 10, 2006; 12:25 PM

NARAY, Afghanistan -- Militants detonated a roadside bomb Thursday, killing a man and his grandson selling vegetables in eastern Afghanistan. Meanwhile, a Kandahar provincial official said that Taliban rebels and police had clashed two days earlier in Panjwayi district, killing 12 militants and eight policemen.

The blast went off in Jalalabad while Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry _ the top U.S. general in Afghanistan _ visited a U.S. base in the city, but he apparently was not the target.

Eikenberry, who visited American troops hunting terrorists and leading reconstruction projects, also stopped at the Jalalabad hospital where five people wounded in the blast were taken.

"That says a lot about the enemy we are against and the immorality of that enemy," Eikenberry told The Associated Press at a U.S. base in Naray, a village next to the Pakistani border in eastern Kunar province.

Afghanistan has seen a surge in violence this year, particularly in the south where rebel supporters of the toppled Taliban regime have stepped up attacks. Afghan and NATO-led troops are trying to drive insurgents out of their safe havens, triggering the bloodiest fighting since the Taliban were ousted by a U.S.-led force in late 2001 for harboring Osama bin Laden.

"There is a security challenge in the south but the NATO forces are up to the challenge and are determined to push forward with development in the region," said U.S. spokesman Col. Tom Collins, who accompanied Eikenberry to Naray.

In southeastern Paktika province, a roadside bomb Wednesday killed two Afghan soldiers and wounded three in Waza Khwa district as they returned after a mission to help police surrounded by insurgents, said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi.

That attack followed the killing of 19 militants earlier in the day by U.S. forces in the eastern Nuristan provincial village of Kamdesh after insurgents attacked a new U.S. base there.

Extremists likely belonging to the Hezb-e-Islami militant group of renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar likely staged the attack, the military said.

U.S. forces are pushing to their northernmost points along the mountainous Afghan-Pakistan border in a bid to crush militants loyal to Hekmatyar, the toppled Taliban regime and bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

© 2006 The Associated Press