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Blasts Kill 3 NATO Troops in Afghanistan, Joint Forces Kill 3 Top Insurgents

An Army carry team carries the transfer case containing the remains of Army Sgt. John Castro, of Andrews, Texas, at Dover Air Force Base, DE Saturday, April 23, 2011

NATO says roadside bombs in southern Afghanistan have killed three of its personnel, while coalition and Afghan forces in the east have dealt a blow to the Haqqani insurgent group by killing three of its leaders.

The NATO alliance says the roadside bombings killed one of its service members Sunday and two others on Saturday. Another NATO service member died Saturday when a coalition helicopter crashed in the eastern province of Kapisa. The cause is under investigation. The nationalities of the four NATO personnel have not been disclosed.

NATO also confirmed Sunday that coalition and Afghan forces killed the three Haqqani network leaders in a joint operation Friday in eastern Afghanistan's Khost province. The group has close ties to al-Qaida and operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktika and Paktiya.

The alliance named one of those killed as Salih Khan, whom it said trained bomb makers, organized car bombings and directed logistics and communications for Haqqani insurgents in the Nadir Shah Kot district of Khost. It said Khan led 20 fighters in two attacks on coalition bases in the past week.

NATO said coalition and Afghan troops have captured or killed at least 15 Haqqani leaders and 130 other Haqqani insurgents so far this year.

The coalition also said a combined force captured a Taliban insurgent leader and several of his associates in the northern province of Kunduz on Saturday. It said the senior militant provided weapons to insurgents in Kunduz and was responsible for attacks on multiple targets, including election sites last September.

In other violence, the Afghan government said a gunman assassinated a former top local government official in the southern province of Helmand late Saturday. It said Abdul Zahir was killed in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. He had served as the civilian chief of Helmand's Marjah district.