KABUL, Afghanistan — Insurgent attacks killed three NATO service members Friday in southern Afghanistan, the military alliance said, as Taliban-led fighters pressed a spring offensive that began at the start of this month.
NATO gave few details beyond saying that two of the service members were killed in a bomb attack and the third in a separate insurgent attack. It did not immediately announce their nationalities.
Insurgents declared the start of a spring offensive on May 1 against NATO and the Afghan government. NATO has been expecting the Taliban to stage a series of spectacular and complex attacks, and the group has carried out a number of them.
On Thursday, two back-to-back blasts killed eight U.S. troops and two Afghan policemen on a foot patrol in southern Afghanistan. The second bomb detonated as troops rushed to aid those hurt in the first explosion, NATO said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, which took place in the mountainous Shorabak district of Kandahar province. The area is close to the border with Pakistan.
As of Friday, 42 international service members have been killed this month. This year, 193 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan.
Yemen government calls in airstrikes against tribesmen
SANAA, Yemen — The deadly fighting that rocked the Yemeni capital this week spread beyond Sanaa on Friday as armed tribesmen seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh seized two military camps in battles that killed at least 18 and prompted airstrikes by government warplanes, a tribal leader said.
The fighting brought to at least 124 the number killed in the past five days of bloodshed, which has hiked fears that the Arab world’s poorest country could be thrown into civil war as Saleh clings to power in the face of peaceful protests demanding his ouster.
There were new signs that the fighting in and around Sanaa could cause a wider breakdown in a country where numerous armed groups operate. On Friday, Islamic militants went on a rampage in a southern city, taking control of a police station, banks and government buildings, security officials and witnesses said.
This week’s street battles in Sanaa have pitted Saleh’s security forces and fighters from Yemen’s most powerful tribal confederation, the Hashid, which has joined the popular uprising against the longtime ruler.
Syrian security forces fire on protests, killing 8
BEIRUT — Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-government demonstrations Friday, killing at least eight people as thousands took to the streets despite the near-certainty they would face gunfire, tear gas and stun guns, human rights activists and witnesses said.
The casualties included three people in Qatana, a suburb of the capital, and four in the southern village of Dael, according to the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, which help organize the protests. One person also was reported killed near the border with Lebanon.
The 10-week protests in Syria have evolved from a disparate movement demanding reforms to a resilient uprising that is now seeking President Bashar Assad’s ouster. On Friday, protests erupted in the capital, Damascus, and the coastal city of Banias, the central city of Homs, and elsewhere.
Human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been killed since the revolt began in mid-March — a death toll that has enraged and motivated protesters.
Dutch Cabinet commits to anti-marijuana plan
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch Cabinet says it will push ahead with plans to force anyone wishing to purchase marijuana at the country’s weed cafes to first obtain an official pass — a move designed to curtail tourist purchases of the drug.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he plans to begin rolling out the system in the country’s south later this year, an area popular with French and German buyers, before moving on to Amsterdam’s famed tourist cafes later in his term.
Justice Ministry spokesman Wim van der Weegen said Friday the supreme court must still rule on whether foreigners can be blocked entirely.
Regardless, he said, the plan will prevent cafes from issuing more than 1,500 permits in all, forcing shop owners to choose between tourists and their regular customers.