17 Taliban militants killed in Afghanistan
Afghan army forces clash with Taliban militants in separate areas of the country, killing and wounding more than 17 insurgents, including a rebel commander, says the army.world Updated: Apr 24, 2008 20:18 IST
Afghan army forces clashed with Taliban militants in separate areas of the country, killing and wounding more than 17 insurgents, including a rebel commander, the army said on Thursday.
Taliban militants attacked Afghan army outposts in the Nawa Pass area in eastern Kunar province with heavy artillery Wednesday, but faced a counteroffensive by government forces, the defence ministry said in a statement.
The army identified the insurgents' positions and in a counteroffensive with heavy artillery fire "killed and wounded more than 10 terrorists", the statement said.
Three other militants were killed and as many of them were wounded in a separate clash with Afghan army forces in the same Nawa Pass area on Wednesday, it said, adding there were no casualties on the side of Afghan government troops in the engagements.
General Zahir Azimi, a defence ministry spokesman, said that in both engagements the "terrorists" crossed the border from the Pakistani side and attacked the Afghan government forces.
Pakistan, a US ally, claims to have deployed around 80,000 troops and paramilitary forces on the rugged border with Afghanistan to clamp down on cross-border infiltration by militants into Afghan territory.
However, Maulavi Omar, spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an associate group for Afghan Taliban, has said that his group would be allowed to attack the Afghan and international allied forces under provisions of a new peace deal to be signed with the Pakistani government in the near future.
"In case the peace deal is signed, we will not be obliged to abandon our actions against US and allied forces in Afghanistan," Omar told BBC Urdu language radio in an interview on Thursday.
"Our Jihad on the other side of the border will continue till America ends its occupation of Afghanistan," he said.
TTP is headed by Baituallah Mehsud, who has been accused by Pakistani government of plotting the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, who was killed by a suicide bomber late last year.
Meanwhile, Afghan forces battled with a group of Taliban in southern Zabul province on Wednesday, killing a Taliban local commander, Abdul Hai, whose body had been left on the battlefield, defence ministry statement said.
Pools of blood in the area suggested that "several other militants were killed or wounded", but the militants took their dead and wounded comrades while fleeing the area, it said.
The Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan is again on the rise after a lull during the winter following the bloodiest year since the fall of Taliban in later 2001.
More than 8,000 people - mostly insurgents - were killed in militancy last year in the country, while the violence so far this year has claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people.