Coalition forces in southeastern Afghanistan killed four suspected al-Qaida extremists Sunday, and a day later a suicide bomb blast in Helmand province has destroyed a local government office and killed three people. Isolated but continuous acts of violence have become a striking part of daily life in Afghanistan.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Yousef Stanezai says the suicide bombing gutted the local justice department office in Lashkar Gah, capital of the southern province of Helmand. "The explosion collapsed the building and caused the killing of three persons and wounded eight," said Stanezai. Witnesses say the dead and wounded had to be dug from beneath the building's rubble.
In a separate incident, an explosive device was thrown into a high school in Paktika Province. There were no injuries, but a roadside bomb in southern Helmand killed at least three Afghan soldiers and wounded three others.
Thousands of Afghan and coalition forces are sweeping through the South of the country in a large-scale counter-insurgency operation. Late Sunday, coalition troops in Helmand attacked a suspected Taleban leader's safe house. The house was destroyed, and U.S. officials say they are awaiting confirmation of the militant's death.
Coalition forces have also intensified their attacks on suspected Taleban and al-Qaida militants operating out of Eastern Afghanistan. U.S. military spokesman Sergeant Chris Miller says a pre-dawn operation Monday targeted an al-Qaida commander near the Pakistan border. "Coalition forces killed four suspected al-Qaida terrorists and destroyed a weapons cache during an early morning raid in Khost Province, near the village of Pelan Kheyl," said Miller. It is still not known if the al-Qaida commander was killed or captured during the raid.
This has been Afghanistan's bloodiest year since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taleban government in 2001. A surge in militant attacks has destabilized vast portions of southern Afghanistan.
Taleban extremists and powerful drug cartels are reportedly taking advantage of the violence to expand their reach in the region.