Taliban behead 10 Afghan soldiers
* 13 militiamen die in anti-tank mine blast
* Three Taliban killed in clashes with police
KANDAHAR: Suspected Taliban gunmen ambushed a border patrol in the desert near the frontier with Pakistan, killing 10 Afghan soldiers and beheading them all, a provincial governor said on Sunday.
The victims were part of a 25-member patrol in southern Helmand province that was attacked late on Saturday by militants, said provincial Governor Sher Mohammed Aghunzada. Aghunzada said the dead soldiers’ bodies had been recovered.
The news comes a day after a purported Taliban spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, claimed that the rebels had beheaded a US Navy SEAL commando missing since June 28 in eastern Kunar province. American officials have been sceptical of Hakimi’s claim and US military spokeswoman Lt Cindy Moore said on Sunday that the search for the commando was continuing.
Hakimi has offered no proof to back his repeated claims the rebels were holding the commando, or that they had killed him.
The commando is the last of a four-member elite military team missing in the province. One of the men was rescued and the other two were found dead. The Navy SEAL team went missing after a special forces helicopter carrying reinforcements to the mountainous area was shot down, killing all 16 Americans on board. In the Helmand ambush, 15 of the soldiers, including three who were shot and wounded, fled the area after coming under attack, Aghunzada said.
The assailants launched the assault after driving across the border from Pakistan and then returning across the frontier afterward, the governor said. Afghan officials even say privately they believe some elements of the Pakistani army and intelligence are helping Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Pakistan vehemently denies the charges. Moreover, 13 pro-government Afghan militiamen were killed and two wounded when their truck hit an anti-tank mine in southeastern Afghanistan during a mission to disarm villagers holding illegal weapons, police said. The blast happened as the militiamen were on their way to a remote village in Jani Khel district of Paktia, a senior provincial police official, Ghulam Rasool Salim, told Reuters. Three Taliban fighters were killed during clashes with police in southern Afghanistan, officials said, while elsewhere two militant suspects were arrested planting a roadside bomb. agencies