x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Coalition troops seize militant leader

A raid by US coalition troops in eastern Afghanistan killed five al Qa'eda associated fighters and detained eight others.

KABUL // A raid by US coalition troops in eastern Afghanistan killed five al Qa'eda associated fighters and detained eight others, including a militant leader, the US military said in a statement today. Two US troops were wounded in a suicide attack in the west. Another five insurgents were killed in a firefight in a southern province, said the US military, which has vowed to keep up attacks throughout the winter to keep pressure on insurgents trying to overthrow Afghanistan's pro-Western government.

The detained al Qa'eda associated militant leader is accused of assisting the Taliban with the movement and training of Arab and other foreign fighters into Afghanistan, the coalition statement said, without identifying him. The troops made the raid in Paktia's province Zurmat district yesterday. Five armed militants were killed and eight detained, the coalition said. Violence by various insurgent groups has spiked this year to the highest level since a US-led coalition ousted the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime in 2001 for sheltering Osama bin Laden and other al Qa'eda leaders.

Attacks are up 30 per cent from 2007, military officials say. 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. A suicide car bomber, meanwhile, struck a US convoy in the western Herat province today, wounding two troops and damaging two of their vehicles, said Col Greg Julian, the spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan.

In southern Afghanistan, a Nato soldier was killed when a roadside bomb hit his patrol yesterday, the military alliance said in a statement. It did not identify the soldiers nationality or the exact location of the attack. Coalition and Afghan troops killed five insurgents in a firefight in southern Uruzgan province on Friday, the US military said in a statement. Meanwhile, in eastern Khost province, coalition and Afghan troops detained another militant leader of the network led by an Afghan insurgent leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, the coalition said.

"During the combined operation, the force discovered 10 additional males believed to be militants and seeking safe haven as they move into Terezai district to conduct attacks," the coalition statement said. The United States once supported Jalaluddin Haqqani as a "freedom fighter" when he fought against the former Soviet Union's 1980s occupation of Afghanistan. He and his son Sirajuddin are now considered a main threat against US forces and their allies in eastern Afghanistan.

*AP