Northern Afghan airstrike kills 8 militants

A US airstrike killed eight militants including a local Taliban commander.

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2010, 15:11 PM IST

Kabul: A US airstrike killed eight militants including a local Taliban commander in northern Afghanistan, NATO and Afghan officials said on Sunday.

The battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan has become increasingly countrywide — with insurgent cells operation and launching attacks in the west and north, making combating the insurgency more complex amid a leadership shake-up with the replacement of the top commander in the war.

And violence has been on an upswing in the always-volatile south in recent weeks, with deaths reported daily. In the latest incident, a US service member was killed in a bomb attack in the south, said Col Wayne Shanks, a US forces spokesman.

June has become the deadliest month of the war for NATO troops with at least 91 killed, 54 of them American. For US troops, the deadliest month was October 2009, with a toll of 59 dead.

Saturday`s strike in Kunduz province was called in on a group of insurgents who were meeting in a field in an unpopulated part of Chahar Darah district, NATO said in a statement. The area, called Baghi Shirkat, is about 20 miles (30 kilometres) west of Kunduz city.

Afghan officials said a Taliban commander who helped smuggle weapons was among the dead, NATO said.

Eight militants were killed in all, said Abdul Rahman Aqtash, the deputy provincial police chief. No civilians were wounded in the strike, NATO said.

Meanwhile, another eight militants were killed in a NATO-Afghan military operation in eastern Ghazni province, according to Gen Khail Buz Sherzai, the provincial police chief.

NATO and US forces are continuing operations as they wait for the arrival of new commander Gen David Petraeus. He is taking over for Gen Stanley McChrystal, who was ousted by President Barack Obama after he and his aides were quoted in Rolling Stone magazine making disparaging remarks about top Obama administration officials.

The top American military officer, Adm Mike Mullen, flew to Afghanistan on Saturday to assure President Hamid Karzai that Petraeus would pursue the policies of his predecessor, including efforts to reduce civilian casualties.

Bureau Report