16 suspected ultras killed in Afghan offensive

Kabul, August 25:

US and Afghan troops backed by helicopter gunships and warplanes killed five suspected Taliban, the military said today, bringing to 16 the number of rebels who have reportedly died in two days of clashes.

The deaths came during a series of joint operations across southern Afghanistan to boost security ahead of the country’s landmark parliamentary elections on September 18, it said. The statement added that the five guerrillas were killed yesterday in the Kandahar area when US and Afghan troops located an “enemy observation post” and called in air support.

There was no independent confirmation of the deaths.The US military today confirmed an identical number of deaths during “Operation Vigilant Sentinel” on the same days. It said five Taliban were killed early yesterday 25 miles northeast of Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan province.

On Wednesday Uruzgan governor Jan Mohammed told AFP that a Taliban commander called Mullah Painday Mohammed was among the five dead and that a large cache of weapons and explosives had been seized.

Meanwhile the US said six insurgents were killed on Tuesday after Afghan and US forces saw them placing homemade bombs near a road in the Shinkay district of Zabul province.