by Farid Behbud, Chen Xin
KABUL, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) -- Up to 70 Taliban militants have been killed in military operations and direct fighting with security forces in different Afghan provinces within a 24-hour period of time, authorities said on Thursday.
"Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan army and the NDS or Afghan intelligence agency in collaboration with the NATO-led coalition forces launched 13 joint cleanup operations in Kabul, Laghman, Baghlan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Sari Pul and Kandahar provinces, killing 27 armed Taliban, wounding eight armed militants over the past 24 hours," the Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement earlier Thursday.
The ANP also detained eight other suspected Taliban militants during the above raids, the statement said, adding "the ANP also found and seized one rocket launcher, one PK-M machine gun, eight different types of weapons, one radio handset, 22 heavy rounds, 13 different types of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and 11 motorcycles used by the militants in the operations."
The counter-insurgency operations, aiming to dismantle the insurgency's mid-level command structure and its supply line, have been stepped up in the country particularly since early May this year when Taliban launched an annual rebel offensive to target security forces.
In separate development, up to 30 militants were killed during clashes in the country's eastern province of Paktika, some 155 km south of capital city of Kabul overnight, the provincial government said in a statement earlier Thursday.
"The Afghan Local Police (ALP) repelled an insurgent attack against an ALP checkpoint in Markozo area of Sar Hawza district at around 2:00 a.m. local time Thursday forcing dozens of militants to flee the area and leaving 30 dead behind," the statement said, adding the ALP has also found 26 militants' dead bodies and would hand them to ANP later in the day besides finding weapons and ammunitions on the ground.
A Taliban commander Mullah Sayed Noor is believed to be killed in the fighting which lasted for more than an hour, it said.
The NATO and U.S.-funded ALP or community police was established in August 2010 to protect villages and districts around the insurgency-hit country where Afghan army and police have limited presence.
In addition, a total of 15 Taliban militants were killed by NATO-led forces' helicopters in the country's southern province of Kandahar Wedmesday, the provincial government said in a statement Thursday.
"The ALP security forces were manning a checkpoint in Tangi area of Shah Wali Kot district Wednesday night when they found more than 30 armed militants approaching their post to launch an attack and they called in an airpower support," the statement said, adding as the helicopters with the NATO-led coalition arrived the militants fled the area but 15 militants were killed in the airstrike.
A search operation was launched to arrest the fled militants who took shelter in a populated area and the gardens around the vicinity in the province 450 km south of Kabul.
The security force found and seized 10 AK-47 guns, a PK-M machine gun, a RPG-rocket and several hand grenades, according to the statement.
It said no ALP service man or civilian were harmed in the airstrike.
Meanwhile, another setback for the Taliban insurgent group was the loss of five local leaders and commanders in eastern Wardak province in a six day operation ending on Wednesday.
"Dozens of Afghan soldiers and police, supported by coalition special operations forces, concluded a six-day operation against insurgent networks in the Chak district, Wardak province yesterday, " the NATO-led coalition said in a press release earlier Thursday.
"More than 30 insurgents were killed by Afghan Commandos, Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army, and coalition forces, who participated in the operation," the ISAF release said, adding that coalition officials have confirmed five of the insurgents who were killed were high level Taliban commanders operating in the area in the province 35 km west of Kabul.
The dead Taliban leaders named Ahmad Shah, Mullah Malang, Zubair, Rasul Jan and Wahdat.
The Taliban insurgents, who have been waging more than a decade- long insurgency, launched an annual spring offensive starting from May 3 to target Afghan forces as well as U.S. and NATO troops across the country.
The Taliban has warned the civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as the legitimate targets by militants besides warning people against supporting government and foreign troops.
The Taliban insurgent group has yet to confirm the death of the insurgent commanders and fighters.