Tue, Feb 17, 2009 - Page 5 News List

Afghan Taliban commanders among at least 17 killed

DPA , KABUL

Burqa-clad Afghan women beg for money in Kabul yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Afghan army troops and US-led forces killed at least nine militants including two of their commanders in western Afghanistan, while eight other rebels were killed in a clash with Afghan and NATO forces in a southern region, officials said yesterday.

Mullah Dastigir and eight of his fighters were killed in a US military airstrike in Darya-ye-Morghab village in western Badghis Province, close to border with Turkmenistan on Sunday night, the US military said in a statement.

“Once the exact location of the militants was confirmed, forces engaged the target compound with a precision airstrike, destroying a building and killing the militants inside,” it said.

The defence ministry said that 12 rebels including two of their commanders, Mullah Dastagir and Mullah Baz Mohammad, were killed in the operation.

Taliban spokesmen were not available to confirm the incident. Because of the remoteness of the area, it is difficult to verify claimed death tolls independently.

Both the US and Afghan defence ministry statement said that the dead militants were involved in an ambush against Afghan forces in November last year in the region that left 13 Afghan soldiers dead.

Meanwhile, General Mohaiyodin Ghori, an Afghan army commander in the southern region, said his troops backed by NATO forces killed eight militants in Nad Ali district of southern Helmand Province on Sunday.

The clash took place in the Khoshal area of the district after the joint patrol of Afghan and NATO forces received fire from militants in the area, he said.

The bodies of the militants along with their weapons were left behind on the battlefield, Ghori said, adding that there were no casualties among the combined forces.

The incident in Helmand Province happened on the same day that NATO announced the deaths of two of its soldiers, who were killed in two separate military actions in the southern region.

The militants have steadily gained power and extended their writ to larger swathes of the country in the past three years. They turned last year into the bloodiest year since 2001.

More than 5,000 people — mostly insurgents, but including nearly 300 international soldiers — were killed in conflict last year.

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