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Blast kills two ISAF soldiers, one Afghan civilian

NATO soldiers prepare to leave an area after conducting an operation in a small town in the Arghandab district, Afghanistan May 14, 2008. REUTERS/Peter Andrews

KABUL (Reuters) - An explosion in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni killed two soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and one civilian interpreter, ISAF said in a statement on Wednesday.

Taliban militants regularly use roadside bombs to target foreign and Afghan soldiers in a bid to topple the U.S.-backed government and force withdrawal of the nearly 60,000 foreign troops stationed in the country.

Tuesday’s incident happened while the soldiers were on patrol. The civilian who died was working for the soldiers as an interpreter. Another soldier was also wounded.

ISAF does not release the nationality of the dead and wounded soldiers but most of the soldiers stationed in Ghazni are American and Polish.

The incident comes two days after the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan visited the province, where he told government officials and reporters the Taliban were getting weaker.

In another incident on Wednesday, two ISAF soldiers were wounded when they were ambushed by Taliban militants with small arms fire while on patrol in the eastern province of Paktika, near the Pakistani border, an ISAF spokesman said.

Four military vehicles were damaged at the scene of the incident, witnesses said.

U.S.-led and Afghan forces toppled the Taliban’s Islamist government in late 2001 after its leadership refused to hand over al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

More than 12,000 people have been killed in the past two years in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the Taliban were removed from power.

Additional reporting by Elyas Wahdat; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Roger Crabb and Alex Richardson