About 60 fleeing Taliban fighters were confirmed dead after their boat sank in southern Afghanistan, the defence ministry said Sunday as the
NATO force announced another of its soldiers had died in action.
Police also killed 12 “enemies” late Saturday, the interior ministry said, as both the Afghan military and Taliban insurgents announced new operations.
The 60 Taliban were fleeing one of the new military campaigns on Friday when their makeshift boat sank in the Helmand River, defence ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told reporters.
He said Friday that the military had “observed from the air that Taliban got on board the boat” which sank.
“According to reports we received, all of them onboard were Taliban and were killed,” he announced Sunday. “They were running from our troops to safe places across the river.”
Besides the new Helmand operation, troops from the Afghan army, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and US Special Forces had last week started new campaigns in Kandahar and Ghazni provinces, Azimi said.
“These operations are aimed at providing security in the area so the reconstruction can take place,” he said in Kabul.
This year has already seen some of the most intense military action against insurgents linked to the extremist Taliban movement, which was driven from government in late 2001.
The insurgents, said to be allied with foreign fighters and opium traders, have also stepped up their action despite the killing last month of their top commander, Mullah Dadullah, by Afghan and foreign troops.
A spokesman for the Taliban called on Afghans Sunday to keep clear of foreign military bases and convoys, warning of new attacks on troops.
“We call on Afghans to stay away from foreign forces because a big (Taliban) operation is due to be launched. This will include ambushes, suicide attacks and roadside explosions,” Zabihullah Mujahed said.
“If any civilian gets hurt, it’ll be their responsibility,” he told AFP by telephone from an unknown location.
Militants ambushed ISAF soldiers with gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades on Saturday, killing one of the foreign troops and an Afghan interpreter, the alliance said.
The attack was in the northeast province of Nuristan, a regional official said.
Seven other foreign troops were wounded, ISAF said in a statement Sunday that did not give the nationalities of the soldiers.
The latest death takes to 75 the number of foreign soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year, most of them in hostile action and about half of them US nationals.
In other violence reported Sunday, police said ISAF soldiers in the eastern province of Khost shot at a civilian car on Saturday, killing a teenage girl. The vehicle had failed to stop at checkpost, a police spokesman said.
A policeman was killed and five others were injured in the same province on Sunday in roadside bombings, the spokesman said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
The 12 “enemies” were killed in the eastern province of Khost late Saturday, the interior ministry announced. The militants had attacked a police checkpost, it said.