Monday, December 7, 2009

NATO strike destroys Taliban bastion: officials

ASADABAD, Afghanistan — NATO warplanes pounded a Taliban stronghold in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, killing more than 20 insurgents and destroying a bunker complex, military officials said.

Noor Akbar, a regional Taliban commander was among those killed in the raid in the province of Kunar, a mountainous region and Taliban flashpoint area near the Pakistan border, Afghan army general Mohammad Qasim Bitanai told AFP.

"More than 20 Taliban fighters, including their commander Noor Akbar, were killed in the raid," he said.

The NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it called in an air strike that demolished a Taliban stronghold in the province's Watapur district but did not give details of casualties.

"An international security force conducted an air strike today and destroyed a known Taliban stronghold consisting of bunkers and prepared defensive positions in Kunar province.

"The security force targeted the stronghold near the village of Tsangar Darah in the mountainous Watapur district after intelligence sources indicated militant activity at the location," ISAF said.

The Afghan general said the operation was coordinated between Afghan and foreign forces, which currently number around 113,000 in the country.

Several other rebels were killed in operations elsewhere in the province of Paktika, also in the east, ISAF said without giving a figure.

US President Barack Obama last week ordered 30,000 more troops to the war-torn country as NATO allies pledged at least an extra 7,000 soldiers as part of a sweeping new strategy to crush a surge in Taliban violence.

The Taliban have made a deadly come-back since the 2001 US-led invasion toppled their regime in Kabul, forcing commanders to demand reinforcements in a bid to win a war increasingly unpopular in Western capitals.


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