NATO forces captured two key insurgent leaders in Afghanistan, while a service member was killed in a deadly bombing that raised to three the number of coalition troops killed since the new year began, the multinational alliance said Sunday.
The NATO fatalities - all in the Taliban's traditional southern stronghold - opened 2011 on a grim note for the international coalition. One of the two service members killed Saturday was identified as British by that country's defense ministry.
NATO officials say they are making significant progress in the war, but also note that the gains are reversible. Insurgents are using Pakistan as a base for some of their operations and the government of President Hamid Karzai is widely seen by many Afghans and international observers as so far unable to offer key services to a population struggling for a sense of normalcy after years of war.
The Afghan High Peace Council, headed by former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, has so far made little headway in bringing the Taliban to the peace table.
As those efforts proceed, NATO presses ahead with its military operations.
The coalition said a senior Taliban leader who was directly involved in a Dec. 18 suicide car bombing in the southern city of Kandahar was captured on Saturday.
On Saturday, NATO announced the arrest of another Haqqani network leader in the same province.