Afghan Commandos Kill 22 Insurgents


KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan commandos killed 22 insurgents on Monday during an operation to capture a Taliban commander in eastern Afghanistan, police and the U.S. military said.

The raid was carried out in the Bati Kot district of Nangarhar when a team of commandos raided a village looking for the Taliban leader, the U.S.-led Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force said in an announcement.

During the raid, insurgents opened fire on the soldiers and 22 of the Taliban were killed, the task forces said.

Masoum Khan Hashimi, the deputy police chief of Nangarhar province, said there were no casualties among the security forces or civilians. He said the Taliban commander, Jamal Faroqi, was killed in the pre-dawn raid and 10 insurgents were captured.

In another operation, NATO said a team of Afghan and coalition special forces captured a senior leader of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. The group, which is banned in Pakistan, is blamed for the November 2008 rampage in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people. It said he was captured in the Anadar district of eastern Ghazni province - a lawless area that is a major infiltration point for insurgents travelling into Afghanistan from Pakistan.

"The leader is alleged to have planned and participated in multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout Kunar, Kandahar and Ghazni provinces. He is known to have links to multiple foreign fighters, and was actively planning a high-profile attack at the time of his arrest," NATO said in an announcement. It did not provide further details.

There have been increasing reports that insurgents from Pakistan, including members of the Pakistani Taliban, have joined Afghan insurgents in the fight against government and foreign forces. Many Afghan Taliban take sanctuary in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas over the harsh winter months and come across the frontier during the spring thaw. Violence has increased in recent weeks as more and more Taliban join the fighting.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have deteriorated in recent months, with Afghanistan accusing Pakistan of trying to torpedo efforts to begin peace talks with the Taliban. Both countries have also accused each other of supporting insurgents fighting on their respective territories.

In the most recent exchange President Hamid Karzai charged late Sunday that Pakistan was setting up a border gate in eastern Afghanistan without asking Kabul. He ordered his ministries of foreign affairs, defense and interior to remove the gate and all installations around it. It was unclear how they would do that as Pakistan claims the facility is inside its border.

Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi also said Afghanistan was investigating the participation of Pakistani Taliban in an attack last week that killed 13 Afghan soldiers at a small base in eastern Kunar province.

In other violence, Afghan officials said a roadside bomb killed at least seven members of a family travelling in a trailer towed by a tractor in southern Afghanistan.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the vehicle hit the bomb on a road in the Mali Zai region of Zabul province just after daybreak on Monday. It said four other people were wounded by the blast, which the ministry blamed on the Taliban.

A spokesman for the provincial governor, Shareef Nasari, says the death toll could be as high as eight. He says all the dead are members of the same family.

A roadside bomb also killed four Afghan police and wounded three overnight in southern Helmand province, Musa Qala district chief Enayamatullah Khan said.

Another two policemen were killed and six kidnapped during a Taliban attack on an outpost in northern Zawzjan province, according to Gen. Abdul Aziz Ghairat, the police chief.


Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

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