KABUL - US-led forces in Afghanistan killed 18 suspected Taleban, the military said today, while two Afghans died in a suicide bombing of a NATO convoy - part of the worst violence since the fall of the Taleban 5 years ago.
Police said a car bomber attacked the NATO convoy on Tuesday in the country's volatile south between Kandahar airport, a major foreign military base, and the city.
NATO said in a later statement two civilians were killed and a third injured, but none of its soldiers was hurt,
In Kabul, a roadside bomb exploded on Tuesday as a French military patrol passed, but police said there were no casualties.
In the clash with Taleban fighters, the US-led coalition said its troops killed at least 18 suspected Taleban after an ambush in Uruzgan province on Monday involving machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades.
About 60 fighters attacked coalition troops. Three rebels were killed in the ambush, 15 in the subsequent fire fight and three were captured and were being questioned.
Tuesday's attacks came a day after a suicide bomber killed at least 17 civilians, including several children, in a crowded bazaar in the southern province of Helmand, Afghanistan's main drug growing area and neighbouring Kandahar and Uruzgan.
"Once again, we see the complete disregard for innocent human life that the Taleban are showing, following on from the tragic loss of life yesterday in Lashkar Gah," NATO Afghanistan head Lieutenant-General David Richards said in a statement.
"These criminals offer nothing but fear and death to Afghans who have worked hard for, and deserve, so much more."
The Taleban could not immediately be contacted for comment.
Since their overthrow in 2001, the Taleban and their Islamic allies have carried out scores of suicide attacks against Afghan and foreign forces, often killing many civilians as well.
Fighting across Afghanistan is now at its worst since 2001, mostly in the south and east bordering or near Pakistan, the Taleban's one-time backer accused by some Afghan leaders and intelligence officers of still supporting its former protege.
About 2,000 people, most of them militants, but also civilians, aid workers, Afghan forces and more than 90 foreign soldiers, have been killed this year.
The violence is a mix of opposition to Afghan authorities and foreign forces, the drugs trade, tribe wars and crime.
NATO said in a statement on Tuesday one of its soldiers had been killed in a gun battle with suspected insurgents in Helmand on Sunday morning. It did not give the victim's nationality.