US: 10 militants killed in eastern Afghanistan

Other News Materials 15 November 2008 11:51 (UTC +04:00)

A strike by coalition troops against a bomb-making cell in eastern Afghanistan killed 10 militants, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The troops were targeting several key figures in a network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader believed to operate out of Pakistan, the military said in a statement, reported AP.

Several groups of armed militants fired on the coalition troops during the operation Friday, according to the statement. The coalition forces returned fire, killing their attackers and destroying a weapons cache.

Separately, Afghan police said two national intelligence agents and one police officer were killed late Friday in a bomb attack on their vehicle south of Kabul.

The three were killed while responding to an earlier bomb attack that injured three police officers, said Regional Police Commander Gen. Zalmai Oryakhain.

The U.S. military said those killed in eastern Paktya province were Haqqani militants and foreign fighters known to have planned and conducted bomb attacks on civilians and coalition forces, and to coordinate suicide bombings.

The United States once considered Jalaluddin Haqqani a "freedom fighter" against the former Soviet Union but he and his son Sirajuddin are now seen as closely associated with the Taliban.

Suicide attacks have been one of the Taliban's preferred tactics in their attacks against Afghan and foreign troops. Most of the victims of such attacks have been civilians.

On Friday, an Afghan official said suspected Taliban militants had killed a religious leader in the west after he criticized the use of suicide attacks.

Shamsudin Agha was kidnapped Tuesday, days after he condemned the use of suicide attacks, provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Watandar said. Authorities recovered his body Wednesday.

More than 5,400 people - mostly militants - have died in insurgency-related violence this year in Afghanistan, according to a tally by The Associated Press of figures provided by Afghan and international officials.