ASADABAD, Afghanistan, (Reuters) – U.S.-led coalition forces killed 25 militants, including a woman fighter, in separate raids aimed at a suspected al Qaeda commander and Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Saturday.
One operation targeted a “known al Qaeda leader”, believed to have facilitated the movement of foreign troops into eastern Kunar province, it said without naming the suspect. “The al Qaeda leader is also believed to be in contact with other militants in the region …”.
The seven militants killed in that operation included an armed woman, it said. The military did not say if the “al Qaeda leader” was among the dead. But villagers and a provincial official disputed the military’s report.
All those killed in late Friday’s attack were civilians and belonged to one family, several residents said. A local official, on condition of anonymity, confirmed their accounts. The provincial governor refused to comment on the incident.
Other raids targetted the network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a top military commander for the Taliban-led insurgents in southeastern Khost, the military said.
At least 18 militants were killed in those attacks in a compound, it said.
It did not say whether there were any casualties among the coalition forces in any of those operations, but a separate statement Friday said one foreign soldier was killed in an engagement in an eastern area same day.
The Taliban could not be reached for comment and Reuters had no immediate independent verification of the accounts. U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban’s radical Islamist government after it refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for the Sept. 11 attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States. Many more civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, nearly seven years on after the invasion and al Qaeda as well as Taliban leaders are still at large.