Kabul: American and Afghan forces stormed a
mountainside compound in eastern Afghanistan that had been
used by an al-Qaida commander, killing more than a dozen
militants in a gunbattle, the US military said on Sunday.
The clash comes amid a debate in the US about whether to
send more forces to Afghanistan to gain control of the country
or to more narrowly target terrorists taking refuge in the
mountainous region that straddles eastern Afghanistan and
Al-Qaida`s leadership is widely assumed to be hiding in
Pakistan, though Afghan officials have said they believe
foreign fighters are increasingly crossing into their country
to bolster the Taliban insurgency.
The fighting yesterday started when the troops pushed
into the compound in eastern Kunar province in the hopes of
capturing those inside, said US military spokeswoman Capt
Elizabeth Mathias. They quickly came under fire, sparking a
clash in which more than 12 insurgents died, she said.
There were no casualties among the allied troops or
civilians, Mathias added.
Provincial government spokesman Gen. Khalilullah Zaiyi
said 18 insurgents were killed in the fighting in Mano Gai
district, in the Pech valley.
Some militants were detained, Mathias said. She did not
have information on whether any al-Qaida operatives were among
those captured or killed, nor did she give the name of the
terrorist commander believed to have used the compound.