KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Canadian and Afghan forces killed as many as 27 militants and captured three in fighting throughout Afghanistan over the weekend, and Afghan army sergeant also was killed, officials said Monday.
Three suicide car bombs Monday injured a U.S. soldier, another coalition soldier and an Afghan boy, officials said.
A fourth would-be suicide bomber detonated his explosives prematurely Sunday evening, injuring two militants nearby, a police official said.
Supporters of the hard-line Islamic Taliban militia ousted from power in a U.S.-led invasion in late 2001 have stepped up attacks in recent months, principally targeting international and Afghan government soldiers. Four suicide bombings in a 24-hour period is rare in Afghanistan, however.
A coalition patrol on Saturday killed between 15 and 20 militants carrying assault rifles and grenade launchers, who were “moving with the intent to set up an ambush” in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, a military statement said.
No coalition forces were hurt, it said.
AND FROM IRAQ:
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) — U.S. and Iraqi troops killed more than 100 insurgents last week in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a U.S. Army officer said Monday.
Two Iraqis also died in the fighting, said Col. John Gronski, commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division. No Americans were killed.
Gronski said Iraqi forces “are doing very well” in the battle against insurgents in the volatile Anbar province city.
“The Iraqi army is conducting aggressive operations here based on human intelligence from the people of Ramadi themselves,” he said.
Gronski said the Iraqi soldiers’ improved capability has bolstered the morale of U.S. troops working with them.
U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi forces are trying to shut down insurgent supply routes into the area, setting up checkpoints and sometimes closing streets, he said.
Gronski said an airstrike was called Sunday after coalition forces noticed insurgents removing weapons from a train station in the southeastern part of the city.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to reach out to insurgents, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he has been meeting with seven armed groups in hopes of agreeing a deal to include them in Iraq’s political process.
None of these groups include people loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to a statement issued Sunday from Talabani’s office.
“These groups who are holding talks with the president are those who believe in a prosperous Iraq. Their will to fight America has waned,” said a spokesman in the president’s office.
A source close to Talabani said the meetings have been under way for some time.
The groups are realizing that Americans are not their true enemy, the source said, and that they have been “fighting the wrong enemy.”
“[These groups] are coming to the realization that one day the Americans will leave — and that the most important thing is an Iraq that is free from Iranian influence,” the source added.
The presidential statement said Talabani also has supported recent talks between U.S. officials in Iraq and armed groups.
Talabani said al-Zarqawi “has “announced genocide against the Iraqi people,” according to the statement.