x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

10 militants killed in eastern Afghanistan

Coalition forces killed 10 militants in a strike against a bomb-making cell in eastern Afghanistan, US forces say.

KABUL // Coalition forces killed 10 militants in a strike against a bomb-making cell in eastern Afghanistan, US forces said today. The troops were targeting several key figures in a network run by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a militant leader believed to operate out of Pakistan, the US military said in a statement. Several groups of armed militants fired on the coalition troops during the operation yesterday, according to the statement.

The coalition forces returned fire, killing their attackers and destroying a weapons cache, it said. Separately, Afghan police said two national intelligence agents and one police officer were killed late yesterday in a bomb attack on their vehicle south of Kabul. They were hit while responding to an earlier bomb attack that injured three police officers, the regional police commander Gen Zalmai Oryakhail said.

The US 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 co-ordinate 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 assaults 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 criticised the use of suicide attacks. Shamsudin Agha was kidnapped Tuesday, days after he condemned the use of suicide attacks, the provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Watandar said.

Authorities recovered his body on 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. *AP