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Albanian Soldier Dies in Attack in Southern Afghanistan

Albanian soldiers belonging to the NATO mission in Afghanistan came under attack on Monday, leaving at least one of them dead.

It is the first fatality among the 260 Albanian troops serving in Afghanistan.

The attack in the village of Robat not far from the southern city of Kandahar was staged by gunmen in Afghan police uniforms. It occurred during the inauguration of two schools.

The Albanian Defense Ministry said the remaining soldiers arrested 11 suspected Afghan policemen who were involved in the incident. Also wounded was another Albanian soldier, reported to be hospitalized in a critical condition, along with another unidentified foreign soldier.

Previous reports said two Albanian soldiers had died.

The White House reported on Monday that U.S. President Barack Obama conferred by telephone with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as part of an effort to forge a long-term partnership and support Afghan-led reconciliation. There have been repeated published reports of peace talks involving Taliban leaders.

Also discussed, according to a White House statement, was Mr Karzai's meeting last week in Islamabad involving Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Monday's attack on the NATO troops came after a suicide bomber targeted a police station in Kandahar, killing at least one police officer and wounding four other people.

Kandahar police chief Abdul Raziq said the attacker drove his bomb-laden car up to the checkpoint outside the station and detonate his explosives. The blast also badly damaged a nearby civilian compound.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.