NATO: Taliban district governor captured in southern Afghanistan

NATO: Taliban district governor captured in southern Afghanistan

Afghan and NATO-led forces captured a Taliban shadow district governor and killed "a large number of insurgents" in southern Afghanistan while a roadside bomb killed three civilians in the north-east, NATO and the US military said Thursday, DPA reported.

Forces from the Afghan National Army and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force captured the Taliban leader in Helmand province's Baghran district after a four-hour battle, NATO said.

After an attack from Taliban fighters defending a compound with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns late Wednesday, airstrikes were called in, a NATO statement said.

The captured Taliban leader, who was wounded in the leg, was the shadow governor of Helmand's Nawzad district, the statement said without specifying his identity.

Several other insurgents were wounded, but no security forces or civilians were injured during the operation, NATO said.

Meanwhile, three Afghan civilians were killed and one was injured Thursday by a roadside bomb near a coalition outpost in the Khas Kunar district of Kunar province, the US military said.

The incident was under investigation, it said.

Helmand is the main hub for Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan.

The province witnessed the largest-ever operation by Afghan and international forces this year, which resulted in the recapture of Marjah, a town that was regarded as the Taliban's main bastion in the area.

Around 10,000 British soldiers are stationed in Helmand as part of more than 130,000 foreign troops in the country. Thousands of extra US forces were set to arrive in southern Afghanistan this summer.

Wednesday's Baghran operation happened about the same time as the US Senate unanimously approved the nomination of General David Petraeus as commander of international forces in Afghanistan.

Senators voted 99-0 Wednesday in confirming Petraeus to replace General Stanley McChrystal, who was ousted last week after his criticism of the White House approach to the Afghan campaign in a Rolling Stone magazine article.

Petraeus has been widely credited for turning around the war in Iraq and opening the way for the departure of US combat forces by the end of August. He was the top commander in Iraq before becoming chief of the US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

During his pre-vote testimony Tuesday, Petraeus said he was focused on coordinating the diplomatic and military efforts in Afghanistan and stood behind President Barack Obama's strategy.

McChrystal was summoned to Washington last week and removed from his post after the appearance of the Rolling Stone article, in which he and his staff criticized the White House and Obama's special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.

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