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At least 30 militants dead in Afghan, NATO raids

Afghan and coalition forces conducted sweeps across Afghanistan that left at least 30 militants dead, while insurgents in the east killed five security guards in an ambush on a vehicle convoy.

world Updated: May 15, 2010 15:00 IST

Afghan and coalition forces conducted sweeps across Afghanistan that left at least 30 militants dead, while insurgents in the east killed five security guards in an ambush on a vehicle convoy, officials said Saturday.

Before dawn on Friday, international and Afghan forces carried out an operation in the Sangin district of Helmand province and 10 insurgents were killed, said Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the regional governor.

Mullah Mohammed Hassan, a "prominent" Taliban commander who was involved in many insurgent attacks in northern Helmand province, was captured in the Sangin village of Pirqadam Kariz during the raid, Ahmadi said.

No security forces or troops were injured in the operation, he said. NATO did not provide immediate comment.

In southern Zabul province, a bridge on a highway linking the province with neighboring Kandahar, was blown up with explosives, according to Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, spokesman for provincial governor of Zabul. Traffic was being diverted around the explosion site in Shahrasafa district. No one was injured.

Violence in southern Afghanistan has been on an upswing in recent weeks, following a broad operation in the town of Marjah in Helmand province and as NATO and Afghan forces ramp up security efforts in neighboring Kandahar.

Eastern Afghanistan, along the Pakistani border, and parts of northern Afghanistan have also faced numerous attacks in recent weeks.

Also Friday, insurgents led an ambush of a vehicle convoy between the Gelan and Muqur districts of eastern Ghazni province, killing five private security guards working as escorts, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Three oil tankers in the convoy burned during the fighting, the ministry said.

For its part, the Defense Ministry said Afghan National Army troops and national police tracked the insurgents who led the ambush and killed six in an ensuing gunbattle.

In the Surkh Rod district of Nangahar province on Friday, eight militants were killed and two others injured and arrested in a joint Afghan and coalition raid, the Defense Ministry said. One of those killed was a Taliban commander, known as Shumsuddin, who was alleged to have sown fear among the population, it said.

A day earlier, a coalition raid in Surkh Rod left at least eight people dead. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other government officials insisted those killed were civilians, and hundreds of people took to the streets in protest. NATO said they were insurgents.

In the Achin district of Nangahar, militants fired rockets Friday night toward the district government headquarters, provincial government spokesman Ahmad Zia Abdulzai said. The rockets missed their target, he said, and one landed on a civilian home and injured four women one hospitalized in serious condition. The Defense Ministry also said over the last 24 hours, allied forces led joint operations in the northern Baghlan, eastern Logar, and southern Kandahar provinces in which a total of seven insurgents were killed. The soldiers detained five others who had automatic rifles and hand grenades, it said.

In another incident in Helmand Friday, a roadside bomb against a vehicle in Lashkar Gah, the capital, injured two civilians, the Interior Ministry said. Militants also staged an attack against a police vehicle in neighboring Marjah district but only four civilians were injured, no officers, it said.

First Published: May 15, 2010 14:53 IST