Taliban commander among 53 killed

Gun battles and airstrikes by NATO and Afghan troops killed 53 insurgents in Afghanistan, including a Taliban commander who tried to hide from soldiers under a woman's burqa.

The man, later identified as the targeted commander, Haji Yakub, tried to attack the soldiers and was killed, the military said in a statement. Yakub allegedly directed roadside bomb and suicide attacks in Ghazni Province. Three other insurgents were killed in the operation.

Meanwhile, Afghan and coalition forces killed 33 extremists who attacked their patrol in southern Helmand Province late Friday, a military statement said. The troops responded to the attack with gunfire and air support. And in southern Kandahar Province, a NATO-Afghan operation killed 12 militants.


Sour economy helps fill the Army's ranks

The economic downturn and rising unemployment are making the military an attractive option, Pentagon officials say.

The unemployment rate has jumped from 4.8 to 6.5 percent in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During that time, the ranks of the unemployed grew by 2.8 million, to 10.1 million.

The active-duty Army said last month that it had recruited more than 80,000 soldiers during the past fiscal year, the third year in a row it has met its recruiting goals.


Iranian-made rocket kills 2 in Green Zone

An Iranian-made rocket exploded Saturday near a U.N. compound in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, killing two foreign catering employees and wounding 15 others, according to U.N. and military officials.

The U.S. military accuses Iran of providing weapons, funding and training to Shiite extremists. Iran denies the allegations.

The attack comes as followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr hoisted black flags on houses, mosques and Sadrist offices in their Baghdad stronghold to protest a U.S.-Iraqi security pact approved decisively by the parliament that would let U.S. forces stay in Iraq for three years.


At least 2 killed in missile attack

Pakistani intelligence officials said a suspected U.S. missile strike has killed at least two people in northwestern Pakistan. The officials said the attack destroyed the house of a local resident near Miran Shah, the main town in the lawless North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border.

The officials say some people were also injured in the attack. They would not say whether any foreign or local militants were among the dead or injured.