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Taliban ambush kills 10 Afghan soldiers

Afghan police soldiers display their commander’s photograph after he was killed during combat with Taliban forces in Obe district.

KABUL/KUNDUZ: Taliban insurgents killed 10 Afghan troops in an ambush in Herat province, police and government officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for the provincial governor, Muhiudin Noori, said the Afghan troops – which included both soldiers and police – were searching late Monday for a group of insurgents who had earlier set up a roadblock, stopping and seizing passing vehicles, when they were ambushed.

Five policemen, including the district commander and five soldiers died in the ensuing firefight, Noori said. There were no insurgent casualties, but police later arrested 25 suspects found in the area, he said.

Meanwhile, police said that a high-level Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul-Rahman, has been captured in a joint Afghan-NATO operation.

“Rahman was involved in heightening insecurity in Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces,” said Kunduz province police spokesman Sayed Sarwar Husseini. “He encouraged insurgents to plant roadside bombs and stage high-profile attacks on Afghan officials.”

For years after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001, northern Afghanistan was largely free of insurgent violence but security there has been deteriorating over the past couple of years, Husseini said.

He said Rahman, whom NATO has described as a “Taliban financier” in the north, was captured in Kunduz’s Char Darah district last Friday.

Also Tuesday, an American service member was killed in an insurgent attack in the east, the U.S. military said in a statement.

It did not provide further details about the attack. The latest death makes at least 12 American service members killed so far this month and 265 killed so far this year.

The Herat ambush was the bloodiest single incident for Afghan security forces this year in western Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, President Hamid Karzai condemned “in the strongest possible terms” a NATO raid Sunday in Logar province in which he said four children were killed.

A presidential statement said coalition troops carried out the operation in Baraki Barak district in an effort to apprehend two armed militants. But this resulted in the deaths of the four children who were tending to their animals in the same area, it said.

Din Mohammad Darwesh, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the victims were between 10 and 13 years old.

NATO Tuesday acknowledged that its forces “may be responsible for the unintended, but nonetheless tragic, death of three Afghan civilians” during the operation in Baraki Barak district.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 24, 2012, on page 10.

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