Afghan army kills 4 Taliban near captured town

A02913784.jpgThe Afghan army killed four insurgents on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said, the first fighting near the former Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala since it was captured from the militants five days ago.

As the only sizeable town in the hands of Taliban rebels, Musa Qala, in the southern province of Helmand, took on a symbolic importance for both sides in the conflict after it changed hands twice in two years.

“In a search operation to the east of Musa Qala, the Afghan national forces engaged the enemy. During the fighting four Taliban were killed,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Thousands of British, U.S. and Afghan forces seized the remote dusty town of Musa Qala this week, leaving around 800 Afghan forces and a similar number of British and U.S. forces to hold the town and push out into the surrounding villages.

Military officials they expect the Taliban to counter-attack and do their best to upset the declared government aim of bringing peace and security to the town and the area.

The Taliban have fired rockets into the town since their forces fled the town largely intact on Monday and Tuesday.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan in the last two years as the hardline Islamist Taliban have relaunched their insurgency to overthrow the pro-Western Afghan government and eject the 50,000 foreign forces from the country.

More than 5,00 people have been killed in the fighting in this year alone, according to aid agency estimates.

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