'Taliban number two in Kandahar dead'
NATO said today that the second most senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar had been killed in an air strike.
The man, identified as Haji Amir, was targeted in the province's restive Panjwayi district Sunday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
"An Afghan-international force used a precision air strike to kill Taliban commander Haji Amir, one of the two most senior Taliban leaders in Kandahar province," an ISAF statement said.
Several of his fighters were also killed in the raid, it said. Kandahar province is the hub of the Taliban's insurgency, and was the informal capital of their brutal 1996-2001 regime.
An operation against the insurgents is building, with new deployments of US and NATO troops heading to Kandahar as Western commanders hope to neutralise the Taliban by the end of the year.
The statement said Amir had escaped from prison in Kandahar in 2008. He had been tracked for "several days" before he was targeted in a mud hut in Zangabad village, it said. NATO said Amir operated in Kandahar's Dand, Zhari and Panjwayi districts, all badly hit by the Taliban insurgency.