Seven killed in attack on Afghan-US forces
KANDAHAR: Clashes in Afghanistan left at least seven people dead, including four Afghan soldiers and police officers in the country’s insurgency-torn south, officials said Thursday.
A militant and an Afghan soldier were killed in a gunbattle that also left an American soldier and a second Afghan wounded, the US military said. The soldiers were not identified and no details of their injuries were given, AP reported.
Shooting broke out Wednesday during a joint Afghan-US operation near Gereshk, some 350 kilometres southwest Kabul, in Helmand province, US military spokeswoman Michele DeWerth said. “US troops were conducting a cordon and search when they came under attack,” Ms DeWerth said. “Four anti-coalition militia (were) detained and one killed,” she said Ms DeWerth said the dead Afghan soldier was a member of the new US-trained Afghan National Army. A government official said the troops came under fire as they prepared to search a house in a village early Wednesday.
“Some people opened fire on them from another house nearby with AK-47s and rockets,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “The fighting went on for three hours.” The police officers died on Wednesday night when their vehicles were shot at in Helmand’s Naw Zad district, provincial police chief Abdul Rahman said. Three other officers were wounded in the attack.
Mr Rahman said he believed the attackers, who fled the scene, were Taliban, but provided no details.
Separately, two suspected Taliban were reported killed in a gunbattle in nearby Sangin district when they attacked an Afghan militia checkpoint. Also, another Afghan army soldier was killed and one injured when their vehicle hit a mine in the neighboring province of Uruzgan, a Taliban stronghold. “It’s not clear to us if it was a new mine or an old one,” said Maj Gen Ali Jan Sarwari, the deputy commander of the Afghan army’s Central Corps in Kabul.
Meanwhile, fighting between forces loyal to the central Afghan government and warlord Abdur Rashid Dostum raged for a third day in the northern Faryab province on Thursday, provincial governor Anayatullah Anayat said.
The clashes underscored President Hamid Karzai’s struggle to extend his government’s mandate into provinces where warlords traditionally hold sway, largely through loyal militia troops, AFP reported.
Skirmishes between warlord Mr Dostum and military commander General Hashim Habibi erupted in Faryab on Tuesday night. The fighting was near the provincial capital Maimana, Mr Anayat said.
“The fighting is still going on in Shirin Tagab and Bilchiragh districts,” he said. Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali said the government had regained control of one area.
“Jama Bazaar district, which was in control of the militias on Wednesday, is in control of the government now,” Mr Jalali said.
Mr Jalali said the situation was calm, according to reports he received Thursday morning from the local governor. “It is quiet there and the shops are open. The schools are still closed,” he said. UN spokesman in Kabul Manoel de Almeida e Silva said Mr Habibi, an ethnic Uzbek commander, had attempted to take control of areas under Dostum’s control. —Agencies