13 rebels killed in southern Afghan district
Another 15 were wounded in the operations, including air strikes, around Helmand province's Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi districts.india Updated: Jul 22, 2006 15:34 IST
Afghan and coalition forces on Saturday kept up a hunt for rebels who briefly captured two southern districts last week, killing 13 Taliban in the latest strikes, an official said.
Another 15 were wounded in the operations, including air strikes, around Helmand province's Garmser and Naway-i-Barakzayi districts, provincial spokesman Moheedin Khan told the agency.
On Friday Khan announced six other Taliban had been killed in the same area after hundreds of extra security forces were deployed to the desert region following the capture of the district headquarters late on Monday.
Dozens of rebels overran the headquarters at Garmser town, pushing out 40 police who officials said had been putting up resistance for two weeks.
The militants torched the Afghan flag above the building and hoisted that of pro-Taliban Pakistan religious party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, officials said.
They also captured the district headquarters of adjoining Naway-i-Barakzayi, further north.
Security forces re-established control of Naway 24 hours later and Garmser on Wednesday after meeting little resistance.
The coalition confirmed it dropped a bomb Friday on a building in Naway from which a group of Taliban were firing on a coalition patrol with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
There was not yet an assessment of the casualties, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick said.
There had been another skirmish early in the day in which Canadian troops had returned fire on about five attacking Taliban, he said. It was unclear how many were killed, he said.
Coalition and Afghan forces were keeping up patrols the area, coalition spokesman Major Scott Lundy said.
"We are conducting operations in and around Garmser as you would expect soon after taking control," he said. "We will continue doing so for the foreseeable future."
A purported coalition spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi, claimed operations in the area in the past 24 hours had killed 30 civilians and only four Taliban.
There was no way of verifying this claim with the Taliban accused of often issuing false reports in their effort to turn public opinion against the coalition and Afghan forces.