Afghan forces kill 5 militants

KABUL: Afghan and international troops killed five militants Sunday in a strike on a Taliban operative involved in bomb-making in eastern Laghman province, the military coalition said.

The troops were targeting a compound in Alingar district where their sources reported militant activity, the coalition said in a statement.

As the forces approached the area, several militants threatened them with guns. The NATO and Afghan forces shot at the insurgents, killing five, the coalition said. They searched the compound and detained one other militant.

NATO said the Taliban operative they were targeting was responsible for several bomb attacks in the area. The statement did not say if he was killed or captured.

President Barack Obama has ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan to try to turn back the Taliban, who have taken de facto control of parts of the east and south and are increasingly launching attacks throughout the country.

There is, however, widespread concern that the military cannot prevail without fundamental improvements in the Afghan government, and President Hamid Karzai has promised a crackdown on graft and bribery in the wake of massive international criticism of corruption in his administration.

The deputy mayor of Kabul was arrested Saturday for alleged misuse of authority. Wahibuddin Sadat was taken into custody at the capital's airport when he returned from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, according to Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Faqiryar. He said the deputy mayor was accused of misuse of authority but did not elaborate.

The arrest comes five days after an Afghan court convicted the capital's mayor, Abdul Ahad Sahebi, of awarding a contract without competition and sentenced him to four years in jail. He was also ordered to repay more than $16,000 involved in the contract.

Sahebi has appealed and is refusing government orders to give up his post.

International pressure is mounting to clean up the government, which barely functions outside Kabul, following a fraud-marred presidential election last August. Karzai was proclaimed the winner last month after his last remaining challenger dropped out of a planned runoff, saying the ballot would not be fair.

Public outage over corruption and bad governance is considered one of the main reasons for the rise of the Taliban, who were ousted from power in the U.S.-led invasion of 2001.