Troops kill Taliban commander with close ties to senior Al-Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan

June 6th, 2010 - 5:36 pm ICT by BNO News  

KABUL (BNO NEWS) — A Taliban commander who had close ties to senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders was killed by coalition forces in western Afghanistan on Saturday, NATO announced on Sunday.

The operation in which commander Mullah Akhtar was killed took place in western Farah province on Saturday. NATO said aircraft engaged insurgents with ‘precision air strikes’, killing several suspected militants in a rural area of the Gulistan district.

NATO said the air strike was ordered after coalition forces observed armed individuals moving through a known insurgent safe heaven. “A ground search team later approached the strike area and saw several heavily armed insurgents in a cave and shot and killed them,” a statement read.

Akhtar was identified by NATO as one of the suspected insurgents killed in the operation. He allegedly had close ties to numerous senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders. “He was responsible for arranging training for foreign fighters from Iran and helped resolve disputes between militant networks,” NATO said.

The search team also found rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launchers with RPG rounds, heavy machine guns, automatic rifles and ammunition inside the cave.

The killing of Akhtar comes only days after Afghan-international forces killed a top Taliban leader during a firefight in southern Afghanistan. Mullah Zergay, who was the top Taliban commander for the Kandahar City area, was believed to have directed insurgent activities in the region.

NATO said that Zergay’s death is considered to be a major loss for the Taliban leadership in southern Afghanistan.

In other operations in Afghanistan on Saturday, an Afghan-international security force captured a Haqqani network improvised explosive device (IED) cell leader and several other suspected insurgents in Khost province.

NATO said the combined force went to a compound north of Mehdi Kheyl after insurgents were seen implanting IEDs nearby. The assault force captured the cell leader, who was not identified, and other suspected insurgents while searching the building.

No shots were fired during the operation and there were no reports of injuries.

In another operation, in Logar province, an Afghan-international security force killed and captured an unspecified number of suspected insurgents while pursuing a Taliban IED cell commander. The combined moved on a compound in Nawshad of Logar’s Charkh district after intelligence information indicated insurgent activity.

NATO said that, as the assault force apprached the compound, they received hostile fire. While clearing the compound, several insurgents were killed and several others were taken into custody.

The team said they recovered a machine gun, multiple automatic rifles, grenades and ammunition inside the compound.

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