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Taliban leader killed in Afghanistan

world Updated: Apr 24, 2007 13:38 IST

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Afghan and NATO forces surrounded around 200 Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, possibly including top militants commanders, while US-led coalition forces claimed to have killed a key rebel commander in the country's northeast, officials said on Tuesday.

Afghan and NATO forces have surrounded around 200 Taliban fighters, including some senior militant commanders, in a village in southern Uruzgan province, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.

Bashary said the militants came under siege when they gathered for a meeting in Chora district and were warned to surrender or face an attack.

He said the surrounded militants included some top Taliban commanders but did not name any. Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Hadi Khalid told parliament on Monday that it was possible that Mullah Dadullah, the top rebel commander for the southern region, could be among the fighters under siege.

Dadullah is believed to have been responsible for the recent beheading of an Afghan journalist and his driver. US forces killed Taliban commander Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani in Helmand province in December.

Khalid said that if the militants did not surrender, the joint forces would move forward and capture them.

Meanwhile, Gul Haqparast, a rebel leader who had extensive ties to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the former mujahedeen government's prime minister and currently leader of a rebel group, was killed during a US air strike in Laghman province Friday, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Coalition sources described Haqparast as a significant regional Taliban leader involved in assassinations, improvised explosive device attacks and assaults on Afghan and Coalition facilities in Laghman and Kapisa provinces," the statement said.

In another development, two policemen were killed and five wounded when a remote-controlled bomb blew up their vehicle in Shamelzo district of southern Zabul province on Monday, said Abdul Ghafar Safi, the provincial police chief.

There has been a sharp surge in violence by Taliban-led militants since the beginning of spring after a calm period during the winter.

The violence this year has left around 1,000 people dead, mostly insurgents, but including Afghan civilians and at least 30 international force troops in Afghanistan.