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Germany: Transfer of Security to Afghans to Begin in 2011

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Friday NATO troops will begin transferring security responsibility to local forces in three to four Afghan provinces next year.

Westerwelle said at least one of the affected provinces would be in the north, where German troops are deployed and that details of the handover would be worked out during a NATO summit in November.

The minister said Germany is committed to Afghanistan so that Afghans can provide stability for themselves. German leaders say they want to begin bringing troops home by 2013.

In violence Friday, three NATO troops died in separate bomb blasts in southern Afghanistan.

Australia's Defense Ministry said one of its soldiers was killed while on foot patrol in Uruzgan province. His death brings to 17 the number of Australian troops killed in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, NATO announced Friday that artillery fire from one of its units killed six civilians and wounded several others in eastern Paktia province.

The initial report said one Afghan civilian was killed and seven others were wounded in the Khel district Thursday, but that it was unclear who was responsible.

NATO officials offered condolences to those affected and accepted full responsibility for the incident.

Also Friday, NATO said a joint NATO-Afghan force captured a Taliban commander in northeastern Nangarhar province Tuesday. The commander was responsible for bringing Pakistani militants into Afghanistan to launch attacks.

In a separate statement, NATO condemned an attack on the head prosecutor of the Khwajai Omari district of eastern Ghazni province, who was reportedly assassinated at his home Friday.

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