Soldiers, several 'rebels' killed in Afghanistan

Other News Materials 17 June 2009 03:09 (UTC +04:00)

Two Afghan soldiers and several suspected militants were killed in fighting and raids across insurgency-hit Afghanistan, authorities said Tuesday, according to AP.

The soldiers, from the US-trained Afghan army, died after their patrol was attacked by rebels in the northeastern province of Kunduz on Monday, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Three militants were also killed during "very intense fighting," the statement said. Eight rebels were injured and four others captured, it added.

Kunduz, where hundreds of German troops have deployed under a UN-mandated force that arrived in Afghanistan in 2001, has seen a surge in militant violence in recent months as have other parts of Afghanistan.

Most insurgent attacks are however concentrated in the south and east of the country.

Several suspected militants were killed in operations on Monday by Afghan and US-led military forces in the country's south, a joint statement by the US-led force and Afghan defence ministry said.

Some had opened fire at the troops searching a compound in the province of Helmand -- a flashpoint in the Taliban-led insurgency -- and were killed in return fire, the forces said.

And "several individuals were killed when they brandished knives and attempted to assault the force despite warnings to cooperate," they said.

The men were armed only with knives and not guns, a US military official confirmed.

The troops seized weapons, ammunition and drugs -- including 17 bags of black tar opium, the statement added.

Helmand is the main producer of Afghanistan's opium, which is used to make heroin that is exported to Central Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

Afghan Interior Minister Mohammad Anif Atmar said Sunday that up to 30 percent of the insurgents' funds came from the illicit Afghan drugs trade, illegal taxes and extortion.

The remainder was from international "terrorist" groups and foreign governments, he said, without providing names.

Insurgent attacks have reached record levels this year, officials say, adding to concerns about the security of August 20 presidential and provincial council elections, for which campaigning was launched Tuesday.

Thousands of international military reinforcements are deploying to back-up Afghan forces securing candidates and the voting process.

There are nearly 90,000 international -- mainly American -- troops in Afghanistan fighting a worsening Taliban insurgency and helping to train Afghan security forces.