Afghan police, ministry differ on rebel casualties


Kabul : An Afghan police official claimed Sunday that their forces along with NATO troops killed and wounded up to 100 Taliban fighters in the southern region, while the country’s defence ministry confirmed the death of only 12 militants.

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According to Sayed Agha Saqib, provincial police chief, Afghan and NATO forces launched an operation against the hideouts of the Taliban militants in Zherai district of southern Kandahar province Saturday.

“Based on our information from the area, at least 25 dead were seen by local villagers buried in the area,” Saqib said, adding, “In all around 100 Taliban were killed or wounded.”

Saqib said that NATO aircraft were also called in during the operation, which was still underway.

However, defence ministry spokesman Zahir Murad confirmed the death of only 12 Taliban militants and said that another nine insurgents were arrested during the fighting.

“Twelve bodies of the enemy fighters were left behind in the battlefield, but there might be more casualties inflicted on the Taliban forces,” Murad said.

The operation took place in the same area where two NATO-led Canadian soldiers and their interpreter were killed Saturday in a roadside bomb blast.

In neighbouring Helmand province, a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives-packed vehicle near a convoy of NATO forces in Gerishk district, was the only victim of Sunday’s attack, said Mohammad Hussain Andewal, provincial police chief.

He said that one of the military vehicles in the convoy was partly damaged but there were no casualties among the soldiers or the civilians in the area.

In southern Ghazni province, militants attacked a police patrol on Saturday afternoon, and in the ensuing firefight two policemen and three insurgents were killed, provincial police chief Alishah Ahmadzai said.

Eleven other insurgents were killed in a clash with Afghan and NATO forces in Shah Joy district of southern Zabul province on Saturday, police commander Qasim Khan said.

The firefight also left one Afghan army soldier dead, Khan said.

More than 5,800 people — mostly insurgents — have been killed this year in the country, the highest yearly death toll since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001.