Suspected suicide bomber killed in Afghanistan - NATO

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KABUL, Sep 13 (Reuters) Afghan police shot dead a suspected suicide bomber in the southern province of Helmand, a NATO spokesman today said, amid fears of a surge in violence during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

''The Afghan national police shot a suicide bomber who ... we believe was heading to carry out a bombing,'' the spokesman said.

There was no independent confirmation of who was shot, and the resurgent Taliban, who are resorting increasingly to suicide bombings against Afghan and Western troops, were not immediately available for comment.

The shooting came after US-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 45 Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the US military said.

In separate incidents on Wednesday, an Afghan security guard was killed in a roadside bomb attack in the eastern province of Paktia, while a Bangladeshi national was shot dead in the north-eastern province of Badakshan by suspected insurgents, officials said.

Afghan and US-led coalition troops called in close air support after their patrol was attacked by Taliban fighters in a village in the Deh Rawood district of Uruzgan province, the US military said.

That fighting in turn came after a suicide bomber rammed a US security firm convoy in the southern province of Helmand on Tuesday, killing two local staff and wounding eight people.

The US-led military says coalition forces have killed hundreds of Taliban militants in a series of confrontations in recent weeks. The Taliban have admitted some losses, but say Afghan and foreign troops vastly exaggerate enemy death tolls.

More than 7,000 people have been killed during the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the militants' 2001 ouster.

REUTERS SS BD1736

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