Taleban officials say insurgents have kidnapped a British journalist and two Afghans in troubled southern Helmand province.

A Taleban spokesman Tuesday said the three are suspected of being spies and are being interrogated.  He added that they were captured on Monday.

Also in southern Afghanistan, NATO officials say one of their soldiers was killed during a major offensive against Taleban militants.

The alliance says the operation began earlier in the day in the northern part of Helmand province.  Spokesman Major General Ton Van Loon says the offensive eventually will include more than 5,500 NATO and Afghan troops.  He says the joint force will take special care to avoid civilian casualties in the affected areas.

A coalition statement says militants knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces.

On Monday, Afghan officials said nine civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike during a battle with militants in northeastern Kapisa province.

Authorities said NATO forces called in airstrikes after their base came under attack by militants.

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