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NATO strike targets Taliban

Afghan organizer of USAID attack killed, police say

By Kay Johnson
Associated Press / July 17, 2010

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A NATO airstrike killed a Taliban commander responsible for a suicide attack on a US aid program in northern Afghanistan, police said, while a raid killed another insurgent who smuggled in foreign fighters through Iran, officials said yesterday.

International troops working with Afghan forces say they have killed or captured dozens of senior insurgent figures since April as they aggressively step up operations against Taliban leadership.

However, those successes have not slowed the pace of militant attacks, which continue daily, killing dozens of people each month.

In the northern province of Kunduz, a precision airstrike killed a local Taliban commander who used the alias Qari Latif, the provincial police chief said.

Latif died along with 12 other insurgents while they met Thursday in a field under a tree outside the provincial capital, police chief Abdul Razaq Yaqoubi said.

NATO confirmed an airstrike targeted a senior insurgent commander who was at a meeting to choose a new Taliban “shadow governor’’ in a Kunduz district, but the alliance said in a statement it was still investigating the outcome of the airstrike.

The international force said the insurgent chief had boasted of being behind a suicide car bomb on a US Agency for International Development station in Kunduz city earlier this month that killed two civilians and wounded seven others.

In western Farah Province, next to Iran, international and Afghan forces also raided a militant training camp Thursday, killing another Taliban commander and several more insurgents, NATO said.

The slain insurgent leader, identified as Mullah Akhtar, was responsible for bringing foreign fighters into Afghanistan from Iran, a statement said.

Since May 1, at least 12 Taliban commanders have been killed or captured in the southern province of Helmand, NATO said. Several more key insurgents have been taken out in neighboring Kandahar province, an insurgent stronghold.

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