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Nearly 150 rebels killed in Afghanistan in a fortnight
Cat : Afghanistan
Date : 2006-06-26 11:35:05                      Reader : 287
Without UN cover with peaceful UN forces , NATO and US will never succeed in Afghanistan . Such colonization mood, will encourage resistance of Afghan groups , not only Taliban alone.


Associated France Press (AFP) 26/6/2006

Nearly 150 rebels killed in Afghanistan in a fortnight


KABUL (AFP) - The Afghan defence ministry has said that 149 rebels had been killed in the past two weeks as part of the biggest anti-Taliban operation since the hardliners were removed from power in 2001.

The coalition said it estimated 65 were killed in battles on Friday alone, although the Afghan army put the toll at about 45.

Another 61 had been arrested in the past fortnight during Operation Mountain Thrust, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters.

The operation is focused on southern Afghanistan, among the areas worst hit by an increasingly deadly insurgency launched by the Taliban movement after it was removed from government by a US-led coalition in late 2001.

The coalition has said the campaign is intended to "set the conditions" for a NATO-led force’s takeover in late July of command of the southern region from a US-led coalition that has been there for more than four years.

Mountain Thrust involves forces from Britain, Canada and the United States, among other nations, as well as around 3,000 soldiers from Afghanistan’s fledgling army.

It is the first time that the local army has taken part in an operation in such big numbers, Azimi said, with three Afghan soldiers killed in the fighting in the past two weeks.

The operation was put in place mid-May and moved into a more active phase about two weeks ago, a coalition spokeswoman told AFP. The coalition did not have a death toll since mid-May.

The Afghan and coalition forces had shown with Mountain Thrust "how well they work together to defeat our common enemies," coalition spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick said in announcing the Friday death toll.

Troops exchanged fire for more than five hours Friday with more than 40 rebels northeast of Uruzgan provincial capital Tirin Kot, the coalition said.

The Afghan army commander for the south, General Rahmatullah Raufi, confirmed a battle but said 20 Taliban were killed and 18 wounded.

In Kandahar province also on Friday soldiers killed 25 men in a three-hour battle in the Panjwayi area, which has seen some of the biggest clashes of the past weeks.

In the latest Taliban attacks, a senior regional police officer was gunned down Saturday in southeastern Khost province while a school that had just been built by a US-led civilian and military team was damaged by a bomb blast in neighbouring Paktika province, police said.

The United States heads a host of countries that sent thousands of troops to Afghanistan after the Taliban were toppled when they refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The troops are here to rout out Taliban militants and their allies from Al-Qaeda, and establish stability so the war-ravaged nation can rebuild.

But they and the fledgling Afghan security forces have not been able to end the Taliban insurgency, which is going through its bloodiest phase since it was launched, to the despair of an increasingly disillusioned population.

President Hamid Karzai said Thursday the world needed to find a better way to tackle the militants that included "disarming the terrorists by stopping their sources of money, training, equipment and motivation".

"And unless we do that we will suffer. The Afghan people are suffering but if we don’t stop the sources of terrorism, eventually ... the West will suffer again," Karzai told reporters.

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