A senior Taliban commander disguised as a woman was killed by Afghan and international forces yesterday after he opened fire with a pistol and tried to throw a grenade south of the capital Kabul.

Nato reported a US serviceman also died in a roadside bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, and a small explosion detonated in an area that houses foreign embassies and government offices in the capital, but caused no casualties.

The serviceman's death brought to 85 the number of international forces killed so far in June, already the deadliest month of the nearly nine-year-old war.

Intelligence sources tracked the senior Taliban commander, Ghulam Sakhi, to a compound last night in Puli Alam district in Logar province, south of the capital, Nato said. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for women and children to leave the building.

"As they were exiting, Sakhi came out with the group disguised in women's attire and pulled out a pistol and a grenade and shot at the security force," according to a statement released by the coalition.

"When Afghan and coalition forces shot him, he dropped the grenade and it detonated, wounding a woman and two children."

Nato said Sakhi, who is known by several aliases, was involved in roadside bombings and ambushes throughout the province, and he kidnapped and killed an Afghan government intelligence chief there.

Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, head of the criminal investigation unit of the Kabul police, said the explosion in the capital was caused by a small bomb placed on the engine of a government vehicle.

The driver of the car, used by the Afghan National Army, was arrested. The front of the vehicle was damaged, but no one was wounded, he said.

The new violence came the day after four US troops were reported killed and the bodies of 11 Afghan men, some beheaded, were found amid rising violence across the country.