Troops kill 40 militants east of Afghan capital

Afghan and international forces have killed about 40 Taliban fighters east of the Afghan capital as part of operations to provide security ahead of parliamentary elections next month, NATO said on Tuesday.

Updated: Aug 24, 2010, 17:58 PM IST

Kabul: Afghan and international forces
have killed about 40 Taliban fighters east of the Afghan
capital as part of operations to provide security ahead
of parliamentary elections next month, NATO said on Tuesday.

One coalition soldier was also killed in fighting in
the volatile south where the insurgency is most heavily
entrenched, the coalition reported. It said the soldier was
not an American, but offered no other information in
accordance with procedure.

A total of 48 foreign troops have been killed in
Afghanistan this month, including 30 Americans, according to a
count by The Associated Press.

Fighting in Kabul province began Friday, involving
Afghan, US and French troops and both air and ground assaults,
the coalition said. Eight Taliban leaders were captured and a
large quantity of explosives and other weapons destroyed, it
said.

Troops were taking the fight to the insurgents in an
area where they "used to feel pretty secure operating in,"
Brig Gen Steve Townsend, the US deputy commander in eastern
Afghanistan, was quoted as saying in a news release.

No information on coalition casualties in the
operation was given.

Insurgents have attacked government workers and
threatened voters to derail Afghanistan`s electoral process.
Despite heavy security for presidential polls last year,
turnout was low and the result marred by allegations of
widespread voter fraud.

Elections for 249 seats in the lower house of
parliament are scheduled for September 18.

Heavy fighting overnight was also reported in the
southwestern provinces of Nimroz and Uruzgan, adjoining the
insurgent strongholds of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

Numerous Taliban were killed, but the Afghan police and army
managed to avoid casualties, according to an army news release
and Nimroz police chief Abdul Jabbar Pardali.

Also today, NATO said US troops fired warning shots to
disperse a protest in eastern Afghanistan over the arrest of a
religious leader suspected of a rocket attack.

The alliance said no civilian injuries were reported
from yesterday`s demonstration, but Gen Faqir Ahmad, the
deputy police chief of Parwan province, said one civilian was
killed by gunfire from an unknown source.

NATO said about 300 people surrounded a patrol and
attacked vehicles with rocks and iron bars outside the main
coalition air base at Bagram in Parwan province.

PTI