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WORLD IN BRIEF: Officials: Troops kill Taliban commander

Officials: Troops kill Taliban commander

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan and coalition troops killed the Taliban ‘‘shadow governor’’ of a northern Afghan province in an overnight raid, local officials said Friday, while NATO said insurgents attacks claimed the lives of two coalition service members.

Once relatively peaceful, security in northern Afghanistan has deteriorated as the Taliban, squeezed by NATO operations focusing on militant strongholds in the south, have expanded their reach to other parts of the country.

NATO said a joint force stormed a compound in the Chahar Dara district of Kunduz province before dawn, killing an insurgent and detaining several suspects in an operation targeting a high-level Taliban leader believed to make roadside bombs and suicide vests.

US missiles kill eight in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A U.S. missile strike killed eight suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Friday, the final day of a year that has seen a major escalation in drone attacks targeting insurgents flowing into neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Four missiles struck a convoy of militants traveling by car and by foot near the town of Ghulam Khan in the North Waziristan tribal area along the Afghan border, the two officials said on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Australia floods strand 200,000

BRISBANE, Australia — Military aircraft dropped supplies to towns cut off by floods in northeastern Australia as the prime minister promised new assistance Friday to the 200,000 people affected by waters covering an area larger than France and Germany combined.

Residents were stocking up on food or evacuating their homes as rising rivers inundated or isolated 22 towns in the state of Queensland.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard toured an evacuation center in the flood-stricken town of Bundaberg on Friday and announced that families whose homes had been flooded or damaged would be eligible for disaster relief payments of $1,000 per adult and $400 per child.