NATO: Taliban commander, 7 fighters killed in northern Afghanistan as war enters 10th year

By Robert Kennedy, AP
Thursday, October 7, 2010

8 Taliban killed by NATO as war enters 10th year

KABUL, Afghanistan — An airstrike and a raid by ground troops killed eight insurgents, including a senior Taliban leader who spearheaded attacks against Afghan security forces, NATO said Thursday as the war in Afghanistan entered its 10th year.

Maulawi Jawadullah — accused of organizing deadly ambushes, roadside bombings, and abductions of Afghan police and soldiers in northern Afghanistan — was killed in the airstrike Wednesday in Takhar province, an alliance statement said.

Jawadullah was linked to the recent deaths of 10 Afghan National Police officers during an attack on a police station in neighboring Kunduz province, it said.

Seven other Taliban also died in the assault, including three who opened fire from a forest when coalition forces moved in following the airstrike, NATO said.

Thursday was the ninth anniversary of the American invasion of Afghanistan, a frustrating benchmark for those who expected a quick exit after small targeted special forces toppled the Taliban from power in 2001.

This week also marked another milestone, as the death toll for NATO forces surpassed 2,000. At least 2,004 NATO service members have died fighting in Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

A NATO service member was killed Thursday in an insurgent attack in the country’s north, and another died in a roadside bombing a day earlier in the south, the alliance announced, without providing their nationalities or the specific locations. The attacks brought to at least 15 the number of NATO deaths so far in October.

“NATO is here and they say they are fighting terrorism, and this is the 10th year and there is no result yet,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in an emotional speech last week. “Our sons cannot go to school because of bombs and suicide attacks.”

The Taliban issued a statement marking the invasion anniversary, claiming 75 percent of Afghanistan was now under its control.

“The strongholds of jihad and resistance against the invading Americans and their allies are as strong as ever,” it said. “The invading Americans spent hundreds of billions of dollars in order to continue this illegitimate war, lost thousands of soldiers — with tens of thousands of them being injured — and faced heavy losses in terms of military hardware.”

The Taliban urged the U.S. and its allies to immediately leave the country.

In a report released Thursday, the Open Society Foundations — a think tank backed by liberal billionaire George Soros — said Afghans are increasingly angry and resentful about the international presence in Afghanistan and do not believe insurgents are responsible for most attacks and civilian deaths.

“While statistics show that insurgents are responsible for most civilian casualties, many we interviewed accused international forces of directly stoking the conflict and causing as many, if not more, civilian casualties than the insurgents,” researchers said in the report. “Many Afghan communities drew these conclusions only after they suffered from civilian casualties, night raids, detention operations, and saw few signs of progress in their country.”

The report was based on interviews in late 2009 and 2010 of more than 250 Afghans in seven provinces, along with discussions with community leaders in other parts of the country.

Meanwhile, an Afghan-NATO force killed six insurgents and destroyed a compound used for making improvised explosive devices in Arghandab district of Kandahar province, said the governor’s spokesman, Zulmi Ayubi.

A joint patrol also seized a vehicle with 1,700 pounds (760 kilograms) of heroin, 550 pounds (250 kilograms) of hashish, 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of wet opium, five anti-personal mines, and bomb-making materials in Kandahar, he said.

In eastern Wardak province, assailants threw a hand grenade at a wedding party, wounding four people, Afghan’s Interior Ministry said Thursday. A ministry statement did not specify when the attack occurred.

Three militants were killed Wednesday night in the southeastern Zabul province during a firefight with a joint force, said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, spokesman for the governor. A woman died after stepping on a land mine in the province’s Mizan district Thursday.

Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

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