Taliban flees villages, suffers hundreds of casualties: Governor

June 19th, 2008 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Kandahar, June 19 (DPA) Hundreds of Taliban insurgents were killed or wounded as NATO and Afghan forces drove out militants who had recently infiltrated several villages in the southern province of Kandahar, its governor said Thursday. “The district is totally cleared of the Taliban,” Assadullah Khalid said at a press conference in Kandahar city, referring to the nearby Arghandab district.

He did not give the exact toll but said several Pakistani fighters were among the dead.

Khalid Wednesday said at least 34 militants were killed and more than 60 wounded in the operation that had started earlier in the day in the Arghandab and Maiwand districts.

Two Afghan soldiers and one civilian were also killed in the operation while three soldiers were wounded, he said.

The joint operation was launched after 650 Taliban, including foreign fighters, took over villages Sunday night in Arghandab, posing a threat to Kandahar city, about 20 km to the south.

General Carlos Branco, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), said Afghan forces were able to find and dismantle several roadside bombs Wednesday in Kandahar city.

“Kandahar city continues to enjoy relative calm,” he said.

The latest operation also followed a rebel attack on Kandahar city’s main prison late Friday, in which about 900 inmates, including 400 Taliban militants, were freed.

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