KABUL, (AP) – Two leaders of the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani insurgent network were apprehended in overnight raids in eastern and northern Afghanistan – part of the international military coalition’s stepped up campaign to kill and capture militant bosses, NATO said Friday.
A joint Afghan and coalition force in the eastern province of Khost captured a Haqqani leader known for transporting bomb-making materials. He was the 12th leading member of the network captured in the province this month, NATO said.
Intelligence reports led the security force to a compound in Tere Zayi district to search for the man, who was detained along with one of his associates.
In Baghlan, a joint force targeted a series of compounds and captured another key Haqqani figure, who served as a liaison between the network and Taliban operatives in northern Afghanistan. Six of his associates were arrested as well.
NATO said the facilitator – a top target for the international force – was reportedly in contact with Pakistan-based senior leadership from both insurgent groups.
“The Haqqani network relied on the facilitator to help expand their operations from eastern Afghanistan to the northern part of the country,” said U.S. Army Col. Rafael Torres, a spokesman for the coalition. “His capture should degrade their connections to the north.”
Separately, NATO said a service member died Friday in a homemade bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, bringing to 40 the number of coalition service members killed in Afghanistan so far this month. At least 35 are American. More than 640 U.S. and international troops have died so far this year.