At least 50 Taliban killed in Afghan, US operations

KABUL (AFP) – At least 50 Taliban rebels have been killed in two days of operations by Afghan and US-led troops across insurgency-hit southern Afghanistan, the defense ministry said Saturday.In a single operation in the southern province of Kandahar, more than 40 rebels were killed, the ministry said in a statement.

The casualties occurred in Sha Wali Kot, an area of the province badly hit by Taliban unrest in the recent weeks, it added.

Dozens more were killed in similar sweeps elsewhere in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province, the statement said without giving an exact figure. The rebels were killed in a two-day long sweep in the region, it added.

“In Sha Wali Kot alone, 42 enemy fighters were killed and their bodies were recovered,” the statement said, adding the operations were backed by coalition air support. It did not give an exact date.

Meanwhile, Afghan security forces backed by international troops launched a new offensive Thursday in Zabul province, next to Kandahar.

Seven insurgents were killed during the operation, called “Black Scorpion,” it said. It was not possible to verify the figures independently.

Kandahar, the former stronghold and birthplace of the Taliban, has suffered heavy clashes in recent weeks with around 400 rebels killed in clashes since mid-August, according to official figures.

Taliban ousted from power some six years ago have been waging a bloody insurgency mainly in southern and eastern Afghanistan.

The insurgency has claimed thousands of lives — mostly those of militants — and has peaked in the past two years, with rebels using more sophisticated tactics such as suicide bombings and roadside explosions.

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