2 Taliban commanders killed; 2 NATO troops die

senior Taliban commander and two other insurgents were killed in a firefight with NATO and Afghan forces in western Afghanistan, the military alliance said Sunday, as the government named a chief of a new council tasked with talking to insurgent groups.

Also Sunday, five civilians died in a roadside bombing in the east, and two NATO troops were killed in a blast in southern Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, a suicide car bomber targeting a convoy of foreign forces wounded two civilians in eastern Khost province’s Mandozai district, said provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Hakim Hsaqzai.

Intelligence sources tracked a Taliban commander identified as Mullah Jamaluddin as he traveled in western Badghis province’s Murghab district Saturday, and NATO and Afghan forces moved in. A gunbattle erupted and the Taliban leader and two militants were killed, NATO said.

Provincial spokesman Sharaf Uddin Majidi confirmed NATO’s account.

“Jamaluddin was a very important person who received support from much of the local community,” Majidi told The Associated Press. “His death will certainly lead to increased peace and stability.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Sunday the recently formed “peace council” had selected former President Burhanuddin Rabbani as its chairman. In a speech to the council, Karzai praised their choice, saying Rabbani’s leadership would be “good for Afghanistan.”

Rabbani was one of a group of mujahedeen leaders who fought the Soviets in the 1980s. He was Afghanistan’s president between 1992 and 1996, when he was ousted by the Taliban.

The 70-member panel, which formally began work on Thursday, was created by Karzai to have a structure in place to guide talks with the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

“How much longer can we wait for foreigners to establish security for us? How much longer can we witness explosions in our mosques and see our leaders killed?” Rabbani said as he accepted the position. “Peace will come when we cooperate.”