US, Afghan forces attack al-Qaida compound
Last Updated: Sunday, October 11, 2009, 21:13
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 western Pakistan.

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.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, October 11, 2009, 21:13

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