40 militants killed in strikes

KABUL: Afghan and American forces killed 40 militants over the last 24 hours as they hunted mountainous eastern Afghanistan for insurgents behind one of the deadliest attacks of the war for US troops, the defence ministry said today.

Ministry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said 10 Afghan army troops were also killed in the same period around the country, most of them in Nuristan province’s Kamdesh district, where eight Americans died Saturday after hundreds of Taliban militants overwhelmed their remote and thinly manned outposts.

The violence comes at a

time when the Obama

administration is grappling with how to quell the conflict, including whether the US should send tens of thousands more troops.

It also comes as the country nears a resolution to August’s intensely disputed presidential vote. Election workers began recounting suspect ballots yesterday and a ruling on whether President Hamid Karzai won or will face a runoff is likely next week.

Azimi said joint operations were ongoing in Kamdesh and seven insurgents had been arrested there.

Captain Elizabeth Mathias, an American media officer for NATO forces, however, said there had “not been any

significant engagement” in Kamdesh since Saturday. She said US and Afghan forces were still in the remote area and had not pulled out.

Also Tuesday, two foreign troops were wounded when insurgents detonated a bomb against a coalition convoy on the main highway through Wardak province, west of Kabul, Mathias said.

AP Television News footage from the site in Sayed Abad district showed one tan armoured vehicle on its side near the road, with one of its blown-off wheels laying in a field as international forces secured the area.

In Logar province, southwest of Kabul, another patrol came under small arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire Tuesday, but no damage was reported and there were no casualties, Mathias said.

Logar police chief Gen. Mohammed Mustafa Mosseini said that attack sparked a gunbattle that led to the arrest of at least one militant. Mathias could not confirm any insurgents were detained.

In London, Britain’s defence ministry said one British soldier died Monday after an explosion in southern Afghanistan. The soldier was on foot patrol near Nad Ali district centre in the country’s restive Helmand province.

This week, President Barack Obama and senior policy

advisers are deciding whether to further escalate the conflict after adding 21,000 US troops earlier this year.

The Congress, however, is

divided on the issue, with

the Republicans opposing

the move.

Pak Taliban claim UN office attack

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban said on Tuesday they carried out the suicide attack on a UN compound that killed five aid workers that caused closure of UN offices nationwide. Four Pakistanis and an Iraqi were killed on Monday when a man dressed in military uniform breached strict security measures and detonated explosives in the heavily fortified office of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Islamabad. Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) movement, vowed further onslaughts against foreign and local targets. “This attack was launched by us — we claim responsibility,” Tariq told AFP over phone from an undisclosed location.

“The WFP is promoting the US agenda. They are silent on massacres and do not comment on killings in Waziristan and other areas,” Tariq said that such types of suicide attacks would continue in future. “We will target all those serving American interests,” he added. — AFP