|NATO Soldier in Kandahar, Afghanistan: Bob Strong/Reuters|
Afghanistan (Reuters) - An air strike in northern Afghanistan killed an al Qaeda leader who was planning suicide attacks, NATO-led forces said on Monday, underscoring the spread of the insurgency to once-peaceful areas of the country.
In another incident demonstrating the breadth of the Taliban's reach outside traditional strongholds in the south and east, a couple were stoned to death in public in northern Kunduz over an alleged illicit love affair, government officials said.
The spread of the insurgency has come despite the presence of almost 150,000 foreign troops, backed by about 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, who have attempted to take the fight to the militants in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
While Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda is widely believed to be funding and training the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the capture or killing of senior al Qaeda figures has been relatively uncommon in recent years.
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