KABUL, Afghanistan — Roadside bombs killed three NATO service members and a gunman shot dead a prominent local official in southern Afghanistan, where thousands of Afghan and international troops are bracing for an expected spring resurgence of Taliban attacks, officials said Sunday.
NATO said one service member died in a blast Sunday and two others were killed in an explosion on Saturday. Earlier, the alliance said that a fourth foreign service member died Saturday when a coalition helicopter crashed in Alasay district of Kapisa province in the east.
It did not provide any further details, or the nationalities of the service members. The deaths brought to 134 the number of NATO troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year.
Afghanistan's spring fighting season is expected to be in full force soon. Before last winter set in, tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO reinforcements routed the Taliban from their strongholds, captured leading figures and destroyed weapons caches, especially in the east and south. The militants, known for their resiliency, have responded with high-profile attacks across the nation.
Late Saturday night, a gunman assassinated Abdul Zahir, deputy of the Helmand provincial peace council and former top civilian chief in the Marja district taken over by NATO in heavy fighting last year, the Ministry of Interior said Sunday. The Taliban claimed responsibility in a telephone call to the Associated Press.
Zahir's appointment as Marja district chief last year became controversial when court records and news reports in Germany showed he served part of a more than four-year prison sentence for attempted manslaughter for stabbing his son in 1998.