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53 Taliban killed in Afghanistan

world Updated: Nov 30, 2008 00:30 IST

Gunbattles and airstrikes by NATO and Afghan troops killed 53 militants in Afghanistan, including a wanted Taliban commander who tried to hide from soldiers under a woman’s burqa, officials said on Saturday.

The US forces targeting the commander surrounded a house on Friday in Ghazni province and ordered everyone inside to leave, a military statement said.

Six women and 12 children left the building, but while soldiers were questioning the women they discovered one was actually a man dressed in a burqa, the traditional all-encompassing dress that most Afghan women wear. The man, later identified as the targeted commander Haji Yakub, tried to attack the soldiers and was killed, the military said.

Yakub allegedly directed roadside bomb and suicide attacks against Afghanistan’s government and coalition forces in Ghazni, according to the statement. Three other militants were killed in the operation, it said.

Meanwhile, Afghan and coalition forces killed 33 militants when their patrol came under attack in southern Helmand province Friday, a military statement said. The troops responded to the attack with gunfire and air support, it said.

In Kandahar province, meanwhile, a three-day NATO-Afghan operation in Zhari district killed 12 militants, said police Chief Matiullah Khan.

Police in western Farah province said they killed four insurgents setting up a makeshift base in a village, apparently aiming to launch strikes on Farah city.