17 insurgents killed in Afghanistan (Lead)

December 31st, 2008 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanKabul, Dec 31 (DPA) Seventeen militants were killed in fighting with the US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan, the US military said Wednesday.Eleven insurgents loyal to Hezbi Islami, an associate group of Taliban militants, were killed in Sarobi district of Kabul province Tuesday, while six militants were killed in NATO-led airstrike in east of the country.

The targeted militant commander and his fighters were involved in trafficking weapons and fighters in the region, the statement said, adding that two militants were killed by coalition small arms fire and the remaining nine were killed in “close-air precision munitions”.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of Hezbi Islami was the belligerent mujahideen leader during the fight with Soviet Union during the 1980s. Hekmatyar announced his allegiance with Taliban and Al Qaeda network following the ouster of ultra-Islamic regime in late 2001.

His group has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the country, including the one in Sarobi district in August that killed ten French soldiers and wounded more than 20 others.

Separately, two NATO-led aircrafts spotted gun-toting militants in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday morning, the alliance said in a statement, adding that the warplanes engaged the militants and killed six of them.

No international soldiers were hurt during the Tuesday’s operations, the military said.

The year 2008 was the worst period in Taliban-led insurgency since the fall of Taliban regime. The year was also the deadliest for the 70,000-strong international forces with more than 290 troops killed.

The US government has announced doubling its troops presence in Afghanistan by sending up to 30,000 additional forces to contain insurgency in 2009.

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