Kabul: NATO said on Friday it captured several insurgent leaders in recent days and detained at least 438 suspected militants over the last month, as three coalition soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan.
Afghan and coalition forces also killed at least 15 insurgents in a firefight in eastern Kunar province who were trying to set up an attack position, the coalition said. It said initial reports indicated there were no injuries to civilians.
NATO said Afghan and international forces captured a senior Taliban leader based in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province on Thursday. A military operation called "Dragon Strike" is under way in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, to clear the area of militants.
The captured Taliban leader helped militants obtain weapons and bomb components and provided training and bed-down locations for the Taliban leadership, NATO said. It said the security force did not fire its weapons in taking the leader into custody.
NATO also said that Afghan and coalition security forces captured a Haqqani Network operative involved in explosive attacks and providing support to Taliban insurgents. He was captured in Khost, in the east near Pakistan, on Thursday.
The Haqqani Network is based in Pakistan and is believed to have links to al Qaeda.
NATO said in a statement that the suspect was detained along with three of his associates. The security force found an automatic weapon, ammunition and a hand grenade at the scene, it said.
Also in Khost, another Haqqani senior leader and six insurgents were killed in an operation on Thursday, NATO said. It said the leader was directly involved in the planning and coordination of attacks against forward operating bases Salerno and Chapman in August in which more than 30 Haqqani Network insurgents were killed.
In a separate statement on Friday, NATO said more than 438 suspected insurgents were detained in September and 114 insurgents were killed.
NATO said security forces last month captured or killed more than 105 Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders, including shadow governors, leaders, sub-leaders and weapons facilitators. It said Afghan and coalition forces completed 194 missions, 88 percent of them without shots fired.
Among the killed was Abdallah Umar al-Qurayshi, an al Qaeda senior leader who coordinated the attacks of a group of Arab fighters in Kunar and Nuristan provinces, NATO said. He was killed in an airstrike in Kunar, near Pakistan, on Saturday, along with Abu Atta al Kuwaiti, an al Qaeda explosive expert, and several Arab foreign fighters, it said.
Just north of Kandahar, two Romanian soldiers were killed and one was injured on Friday when their Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb about 25 miles (40 kilometres) northeast of Qalat in Zabul province, according to Romania`s Defence Ministry. Romania has about 1,660 troops in Afghanistan — mostly in the restive south. It has lost 17 service members in the conflict there, including Friday`s casualties.
NATO also reported two deaths on Friday in eastern Afghanistan, and the death of another service member from a non-battle injury in southern Afghanistan. No details of the deaths or the nationalities of the service members were disclosed.
This year has already become the deadliest of the nine-year war for the coalition.