Hundreds of Afghan and U.S. troops raid suspected Taliban camp, five killed, police say

Tuesday, October 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) _ Hundreds of Afghan troops backed by U.S. soldiers and helicopters attacked a suspected Taliban hide-out, killing at least four rebels and capturing eight others, Afghan and U.S. officials said Tuesday.

One Afghan soldier was killed and five others were wounded. Jan Mohammed Khan, governor of the central Uruzgan province where the raid occurred, said the captured Taliban appeared to be residents of Uruzgan and the neighboring province of Zabul.

The raid started Monday in the Chaar Cheno district, an area about 90 miles northeast of Kandahar that is believed to be a Taliban stronghold, after troops surrounded the suspected camp, police chief Haji Mohammed Akhtar said. It was continuing Tuesday, but Akhtar gave no other details.

``We will either kill or capture these Taliban,'' Akhtar said.

A U.S. military spokesman at American headquarters at Bagram, just north of the Afghan capital, Kabul, confirmed U.S. troops were involved in the raid in an e-mail.

``Coalition forces in support of Afghan militia are engaged in combat operations against anti-coalition forces at this time,'' Col. Rodney Davis said. ``We prefer not to say more while operations are ongoing.''

Fighters from the hardline Muslim militia, which was ousted in late 2001 for harboring terrorists, are believed to have stepped up attacks against government troops, aid workers and U.S.-led coalition forces in recent weeks.

On Monday, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying two Americans, but no injuries were reported, a provincial police chief said Tuesday.

The attack occurred on a dirt road in the southern Zabul province when the Americans were en route to the nearby Ghazni province, said Haji Mohammed Ayub, police chief in Zabul.

He did not disclose their identities and only said they were working on a road construction project in the area.

``We know Taliban are behind these attacks,'' Ayub said. ``They want to disrupt peace.''

He gave no other details and said police still were investigating.