Four members of a community defense force protecting villagers in western Afghanistan were beheaded by militants in a weekend battle, an Afghan army official said Sunday.
Major Zainudin Sharifi, the commander of the Afghan National Army's rapid-response team in Herat province, said the fighting occurred Saturday in Zerko, a Taliban area of Shindand district. Sharifi said members of the defense force, hired by the Afghan Interior Ministry, came under fire when they were investigating tips that suicide bombers were planning to attack a coalition outpost. Four were captured and beheaded.
Coalition forces and the quick-response force responded, killing 10 militants. Sharifi said four of the militants died when they were hit by bullets that detonated their suicide vests. On Saturday in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, a joint Afghan and international force uncovered a roadside bomb factory in Now Zad district.
NATO said Sunday that two suspected insurgents were detained and dozens of rocket-propelled grenades and bomb parts were confiscated.
In a separate operation, NATO said a joint force killed several insurgents and seized 2,250 kilograms of opium resin, 60 kilograms of morphine, 20 kilograms of heroin and four guns on Saturday in Helmand, about 40 kilometers north of the Pakistan border.