Taliban commander killed in Afghanistan
KABUL: A Taliban leader in a restive province of southern Afghanistan was killed on Tuesday in a gunfight lasting several hours, a provincial official said.
Mullah Ghausuddin and a comrade, Mullah Muhammad, were killed in Zabul province’s Mizan district, an aide to the provincial governor said. A government soldier was wounded, he added.
The aide, Nasim, said Ghausuddin was the leading Taliban commander in Zabul, a bastion of the Taliban until they were ousted and a hotbed of guerrilla violence in recent months. Ghausuddin had led many recent Taliban strikes against pro-government forces in the province, Nasim said. United Nations-funded mine clearance agencies suspended operations in the region after an attack three weeks ago in Zabul, in which two Afghan de-miners were wounded. On Monday Afghan authorities said they had arrested Mullah Janan, a suspected Taliban commander accused of plotting attacks on Afghan government buildings.
The 10th Mountain Division assumed command of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan Tuesday, to lead the hunt for Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants. Maj Gen John Vines took over command from Lt Gen Dan McNeill of the US army’s 18th Airborne Corps in a ceremony at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, US military spokesman Colonel Rodney Davis told reporters.
“We haven’t been receiving any large scale attacks from anti-coalition elements, therefore there has been no need for major combat operations,” he said. “But the force structure and size will stay the same, for the time being.” US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a May 1 visit here declared Afghanistan was no longer a major combat zone and had entered a period of stability and reconstruction. —Agencies