Thursday, April 26, 2007

Taliban Commander Among 16 Killed In Afghanistan

A Taliban commander was among 16 people killed in Afghanistan, while Afghan and Nato forces surrounded around 200 Taliban fighters in southern Uruzgan province, officials said yesterday. Eleven Taliban were killed when Afghan and Nato forces attacked their hideout in the Seuri district of southern Zabul province on Monday night, General Rahmatullah Raoufi, army commander for regional south, said. He said joint forces acting on a tip-off surrounded the Taliban compound and asked them to surrender, adding that the joint forces opened fire after being fired on by the insurgents from inside the compound. The ensuing battle left 11 Taliban dead. None of the Afghan or Nato troops was wounded. In western Farah province, Afghan and US-led coalition forces killed two suspected Taliban and wounded another two during an operation in the Bakwa district, Sayed Agha Saqib, provincial police chief, said. He said two Afghan policemen were wounded and seven suspected Taliban were captured for questioning. In another incident, Afghan and Nato forces surrounded around 200 Taliban fighters, including some senior militant commanders, in a village in southern Uruzgan province, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.Bashary said the militants came under siege when they gathered for a meeting in the Chora district of the province and were warned to surrender or face attack. He said the surrounded militants included some top Taliban commanders, but did not name any. However, Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Hadi Khalid told the security commission of the upper house of parliament on Monday that it was possible that Mullah Dadullah, the top rebel commander for the southern region, could be among the fighters under siege. Dadullah is believed to have been responsible for the recent beheading of an Afghan journalist and his driver. US forces killed a senior Taliban commander, Mullah Akhtar Mohamed Osmani, in southern Helmand province in December last. The Taliban rejected the claim that their fighters, including Mullah Dadullah, are surrounded by Afghan forces, saying there was no need for such a large number of their fighters to gather in one place. “These are contradictory claims and are baseless propagandas which are not true,” Taliban spokesman Qari Yousif Ahmadi was quoted as saying in an Internet statement. Khalid said that if the militants did not surrender the joint forces would capture them. A known Taliban commander was arrested in Uruzgan province yesterday, an interior ministry statement said. Three vehicles, one of them packed with explosives, were also seized. Meanwhile, Gul Haqparast, a rebel leader with extensive ties to Hekmatyar Gulbuddin - the former mujah1deen government’s prime minister and currently leader of a rebel group - was killed during a US airstrike in Laghman province on Friday, the US military said yesterday. “Coalition sources described Haqparast as a significant regional Taliban leader involved in assassinations, improvised explosive device attacks and assaults on Afghan and Coalition facilities in Laghman and Kapisa provinces,” the US statement said.