Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 5 News List

Militants killed in Afghan air strikes

AFP , KHOST, AFGHANISTAN

Afghan Foreign Minister Rangeen Dafdar Spanta, left, greets German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Saturday. Steinmeier said on Saturday that violence in Afghanistan had worsened over the past year. Air strikes yesterday killed dozens of militants, a provincial official said.

PHOTO: EPA

Between 50 and 70 Taliban-linked militants were killed in air strikes by international forces in eastern Afghanistan early yesterday, a provincial governor said.

The militants had initially stormed a police post in Khost Province near the border with Pakistan, killing two policemen, one of whom was beheaded, provincial governor Arsala Jamal said

International military aircraft were called in to strike back, he said.

“Taliban attacked one of our police posts. As they retreated, international military air forces came in and bombed them. Fifty to 70 Taliban have been killed,” he said.

“They had killed one policeman in the initial attack and had captured another officer who was later beheaded,” he said.

The governor said he had video footage of the rebels being killed in the strikes in Spera District, on the border.

“I can say with responsibility that 50 to 70 Taliban have been killed. We have video showing they were killed,” he said, when asked how he knew how many had died.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed there had been action in the area but said it was too early to give details.

The rebels had been able to reach “very close” to the district headquarters before the air force arrived, the governor said.

The air strikes were later halted to avoid civilian casualties after the militants moved into villages, he said.

The Taliban, an Islamic militant group leading an insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by about 70,000 international troops, were in government between 1996 and 2001.

They were ousted from government in a US-led attack in late 2001 launched after they refused to hand over their al-Qaeda ally Osama Bin Laden, accused of involvement in the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the US.

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