The Taliban have issued an updated code of conduct that urges fighters to avoid killing civilians, except for people working for coalition forces or the Afghan government.

The Taliban began distributing the new code in southern Afghanistan about 10 days ago, shortly before the top NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, issued guidelines that also urged soldiers to avoid civilian casualties.

"The Taliban must treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality to win over the hearts and minds of the people," said the 69-page booklet, which was obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday from a Taliban fighter.

However, the document also declares that people working for international forces or the Afghan government are "supporters of the infidels" and can be killed.

On Monday, a suicide bomber near Kandahar blew up his car near a vehicle taking an Afghan official to work, killing six children instead, police said.

The code also urges fighters not to surrender, saying "such acts enhance the morale of our enemies."

It also declares that all fighters must have beards unless given special exemption and are prohibited from smoking cigarettes.

Analysts familiar with the Taliban said the code is more of a political statement than a military textbook, meant to counter the coalition's own attempts at winning Afghan hearts and minds.

1st New Zealand soldier killed

New Zealand suffered its first combat fatality in Afghanistan when a soldier died in an ambush that left another two New Zealand soldiers and an Afghan interpreter wounded, an official said on Wednesday.

The three wounded in the attack Tuesday in central Bamiyan province suffered serious injuries that were not life-threatening, New Zealand Defence Force Chief Lt. Gen. Jerry Mateparae told reporters in Wellington.

A three-vehicle New Zealand patrol was attacked with an improvised explosive device, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, Mateparae said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the attack would not hasten the withdrawal of New Zealand troops from Afghanistan.

"This is New Zealand's first combat loss in Afghanistan and reinforces the danger faced daily by our forces as they work tirelessly to restore stability to the province," Key said in a statement.

New Zealand's 140-strong provincial reconstruction team in Bamiyan had been expected to end their seven-year deployment in September. However, Key said in May that the posting will roll over for another year, then start reducing as civilian specialists are introduced.

New Zealand also has 40 Special Air Service elite combat troops in Afghanistan.