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More than 30 militants killed in pre-election offensive

Video by Fiona CAMERON

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-17

The Afghan defence ministry said Sunday that more than 30 militants, including foreign fighters, have been killed in an offensive by Afghan and international troops seeking to safeguard August 20 presidential and provincial elections.

AFP - The Afghan defence ministry said Sunday that more than 30 rebels, including foreigners, were killed in an operation pounding Taliban centres in a bid to secure a northeast troublespot for key elections.
   
"Tens of terrorists were killed as a result of Operation Thunder Five in the province of Khost," the ministry announced in a statement.
  

"The operation was launched a while ago for election security, with support from national police, border police and international forces," it said.
   
"More than 30 have been killed," ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi told AFP after the operation in Spera, in southwestern Khost near the border with Pakistan.
   
Independent confirmation of the death toll was not possible and the NATO-led military deployed in Afghanistan had no immediate details.
   
Afghanistan's defence ministry said troops pounded Taliban centres, "overpowering" the enemy who either escaped or were killed.
   
"Among those killed are 10 foreign nationals," said the ministry.
   
US, NATO and Afghan troops have launched multiple operations -- particularly against Taliban flashpoints in the south -- in a bid to safeguard imminent Afghan elections overshadowed by Taliban threats and mounting violence.
   
On August 20, 17 million Afghans are due to elect a president for the second time in history, but Taliban threats to block roads to polling booths and widespread fears of suicide attacks have clouded preparations.
   
The governor of Khost, which borders a part of Pakistan where Taliban commanders carved out safe havens in the wake of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, told AFP last week that countless offensives were underway.
  
"Since the beginning of the month, we did 45 operations in the province to clean up insurgent strongholds. During the first two weeks of August, security forces killed 51 Taliban," said the governor Hamidullah Qalandarzai.
   
Thousands of US Marines have poured into Taliban-controlled regions as part of a sweeping new war strategy under US President Barack Obama aimed at quelling the insurgency.
 

Date created : 2009-08-16

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