KABUL, (Reuters) – U.S.-led coalition forces killed 25 militants in a series of raids against Taliban commanders in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.
Violence has sharply escalated in Afghanistan this year, the bloodiest period since the Taliban’s removal in 2001, and has raised doubts about the prospects of security in the country despite the increasing number of foreign troops.
In one of the raids early on Wednesday, coalition troops killed 15 militants and detained six suspected insurgents outside the southern city of Kandahar, the U.S. military said. The soldiers were clearing “a compound known to be an IED command and control node” when fired upon, it said in a statement, adding there were no casualties among civilians or coalition forces.
The other two attacks occurred on Tuesday in southeastern Afghanistan.
One targeted a senior Taliban commander in Paktia’s Zormat district. He was believed to be a liaison between the al Qaeda and Taliban networks and had assisted with the movement of foreign fighters into Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.
Five armed militants were killed during the operation, it said in a statement, but did not name the commander and did not say whether he was among the casualties.
In neighbouring Paktika province, coalition forces killed five armed militants and detained four more in another operation that targeted a pro-Taliban sub-commander, it said.
Coalition forces drew small-arms fire in both engagements, it said, but did not say whether they or civilians had suffered any casualties.
The Taliban could not be reached for comment immediately and Reuters had no independent verification of the U.S. military’s accounts.
More than 4,000 people, over a quarter of them civilians, have been killed in Afghanistan this year alone.
Separately, the Taliban kidnapped three engineers of a foreign-funded construction company in the northwestern province of Badghis overnight, a provincial official said.
In another development five police were killed and five more went missing in an attack against their post in southern Helmand late on Tuesday, provincial spokesman said, adding authorities suspected it could have been carried out by an officer with possible links to the insurgents.