Bomb kills NATO soldier in Afghanistan

The latest death takes to 654 the number of foreign troops to have died in Afghanistan this year, according to an AFP count based on the independent icasualties.org web site which tracks coalition fatalities and injuries.

Roadside bombs have become the weapons of choice for Taliban insurgents, who want the full withdrawal of foreign forces deployed in the country to support the pro-Western government in Kabul.

Leaders of the 28-country NATO alliance were meeting in the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, to discuss its continued involvement in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, amid mounting casualties and increasing unpopularity back home.

The bloc and other countries which are part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are expected to endorse a plan to begin transferring powers to the Afghan police, military and government from July next year.

Afghan authorities want a full transition by the end of 2014 but NATO officials and politicians have warned that foreign troops could still be in charge of security in some areas into 2015 and beyond.

ISAF earlier announced that two insurgents were killed yesterday when Afghan and foreign troops targeted a suspected Taliban leader in the Now Zad district of Helmand province, also in the south.

A statement called him a "senior facilitator" of bomb attacks on Afghan and NATO troops, and "a key conduit of information and financial support" between the Afghan Taliban and their counterparts in neighbouring Pakistan.It was not immediately clear whether the suspected Taliban leader was among the two dead.

In the eastern Khost province, the military also reported the capture of a leader from the hardline, Pakistan-based Haqqani network, also suspected of co-ordinating IED attacks.
ISAF reports similar operations on a daily basis and also highlights its training of the Afghan police and military, which is seen as essential for the transition of powers.

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