NATO says 3 insurgents planning bomb attacks in Afghan capital killed in a precision airstrike

Friday, September 10, 2010

3 Afghan insurgents killed in NATO airstrike

KABUL, Afghanistan — An Afghan insurgent commander who was allegedly planning bombings in Kabul on the eve of the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections and two of his associates have been killed in an airstrike, NATO said Friday.

The military alliance said in a statement that intelligence sources tracked Nur Mohammed and two armed militants to a field in the remote Musahi district of Kabul province. Coalition aircraft carried out the airstrike Thursday night after ensuring no civilians were present, it added.

The statement said the senior insurgent commander was planning attacks in the capital before the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections. The Taliban has vowed to attack polling stations and warned Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.

The insurgents want to topple the pro-Western government in Kabul and drive foreign troops from the country, and have boycotted or sought to sabotage all aspects of the political process, including elections.

“This was a very successful strike which stopped a very dangerous individual from conducting further attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces,” U.S. Air Force Col. James Dawkins said in the statement.

“The Afghan people deserve to cast their votes without fear of attacks from the insurgent groups,” he said. “We are continuously tracking them and taking action before they’re able to carry out their plans.”

The Afghan government and its Western allies hope the elections for the lower house of parliament will help consolidate the country’s fragile democracy and political stability, eventually allowing for the withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 NATO-led troops in the country.

But many Afghans and international observers fear the vote could turn bloody if the Taliban carry out their threats.

Also Friday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged European nations to boost their presence to meet the 2,000 troop increase requested by the U.S. primarily to train Afghan police and the military.

He said NATO-led troops won’t be in Afghanistan forever, but “we won’t leave until the Afghan security forces are ready,” said Fogh Rasmussen in Madrid. “The Taliban can bomb, they can assassinate, but they can’t take power. They can’t win.”

“They must put down their weapons and cut all links to terrorist groups I think the best point is to let the Afghan government negotiate from a point of strength,” Fogh Rasmussen said.

Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning contributed to this report from Madrid.

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