Airstrike targets Al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan: NATO


Kabul : US-led coalition forces targeted a senior Al Qaeda commander with a precision airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, while two NATO soldiers died in the southern region, the military said Sunday.

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Acting on intelligence inputs, coalition forces tracked the commander to a remote compound in the Darah-e-Pech district of the eastern province of Kunar Saturday night, NATO said.

“After verifying his location and careful planning to help reduce the collateral damage, coalition forces conducted a precision air strike on the targeted compound, which was subsequently destroyed,” it said, adding that troops were still assessing the results.

The targeted commander, who was not identified by the military, was said to coordinate attacks by a group of Arab fighters in the eastern region, the statement said.

“The Al Qaeda facilitator and extremists he works with throughout the Middle East directly threaten the safety and security of Afghan government officials and civilians.”

The whereabouts of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who is accused of masterminding the Sep 11, 2001 attacks, remains unknown.

Afghan officials said most of the network’s leaders escaped to neighbouring Pakistan following the US-led invasion that toppled the Taliban government, which had harboured the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

The Al Qaeda fighters are believed to be operating chiefly in eastern region of Afghanistan, which has a long border with Pakistan.

The targeted commander’s older brother was killed in a coalition air raid in March 2009, the statement said. “The brother worked in tandem for several years facilitating for the Al Qaeda network.”

Two NATO soldiers were also killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan Sunday, the alliance said in a separate statement, but did not reveal their nationalities.

More than 530 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan in 2010, the deadliest year for around 150,000 US and NATO forces since the start of war nearly nine years ago.