NATO says it captures more insurgent leaders; 438 militants detained in September

By Eric Talmadge, AP
Friday, October 1, 2010

NATO says it captures Afghan insurgent leaders

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two coalition service members were killed in a blast Friday battling insurgents in the Taliban heartland of south Afghanistan, as NATO said it captured more insurgent leaders and announced it has detained at least 438 suspected militants over the last month.

Afghan and coalition forces also killed at least 15 insurgents in a firefight in eastern Kunar province who were trying to set up an attack position. The coalition said initial reports indicated there were no injuries to civilians.

NATO said Afghan and international forces captured a senior Taliban leader based in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province Thursday. A military operation called “Dragon Strike” is under way in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, to clear the area of militants.

The coalition also said two service members were killed in a blast in the south on Friday, but provided no further details.

Five NATO service members were killed Thursday in that area, where NATO says it expects hard fighting. Three died when a homemade bomb exploded and two were killed separately — one following an insurgent attack and another in an explosion.

This year has already become the deadliest of the nine-year war for the coalition.

In the Shahjoy district of Zabul, just north of Kandahar, four Taliban members and one farmer were killed while planting a bomb, Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said Friday. He said the deaths occurred Thursday night.

In its announcement Friday, NATO said the captured Taliban leader helped militants obtain weapons and improvised explosive device components and provided training and bed-down locations for the Taliban leadership. It said the security force did not fire its weapons in taking the leader into custody.

NATO also said in a statement Friday that Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Haqqani Network operative involved in indiscriminate explosive attacks and providing support to Taliban insurgents. He was captured in Khost, in the east near Pakistan, on Thursday.

The Haqqani Network is based in Pakistan and is believed to have links to al-Qaida.

The statement said the suspect was detained along with three of his associates. The security force also found an automatic weapon, ammunition and a hand grenade at the scene.

Also in Khost, another Haqqani senior leader and six insurgents were killed in an operation Thursday. NATO said the leader was directly involved in the planning and coordination of attacks against forward operating bases Salerno and Chapman in August that left more than 30 Haqqani Network insurgents killed.

In a separate statement Friday, NATO said more than 438 suspected insurgents were detained in September, and 114 insurgents killed.

NATO said security forces last month captured or killed more than 105 Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders, including shadow governors, leaders, sub-leaders and weapons facilitators. It said Afghan and coalition forces completed 194 missions, 88 percent of them without shots fired.

Among the killed was Abdallah Umar al-Qurayshi, an al-Qaida senior leader who coordinated the attacks of a group of Arab fighters in Kunar and Nuristan province. He was killed in an airstrike in Kunar, near Pakistan, on Saturday, along with Abu Atta al Kuwaiti, an al-Qaida explosive expert, and several Arab foreign fighters.

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