At least 16 Taliban killed in Afghanistan: officials

HERAT, Afghanistan (AFP) — At least 16 Taliban rebels including a suspected would-be suicide bomber were killed in US-led and Afghan operations across insurgency-plagued Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

A man wearing a bomb-filled waistcoat was shot dead near a police checkpost in the eastern province of Khost on Tuesday, a police official said.

“He wanted to target our police but our guys shot him dead before he succeeded in exploding his bombs,” the police official, Mohammad Yaqoub, told AFP.

Meanwhile, the US-led coalition said its troops and Afghan forces killed “several” Islamic guerrillas in an operation in the southern province of Helmand on Tuesday. It did not give an exact figure.

The militants were killed in a gun battle with troops searching a compound for rebels “associated with Taliban and foreign fighters,” it said.

“There were no immediate indications of injuries or deaths to civilians not taking part in hostilities,” the statement from the coalition added.

A cache of rifles, rockets and explosives was found and destroyed following the battle.

Helmand, Afghanistan’s biggest opium-producing province, has been badly hit by the Taliban-led insurgency, which is at its bloodiest since the hardline Islamic militia was ousted in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

Afghan and NATO-led troops last month captured the town of Musa Qala, which the rebels had turned into their biggest base in the country.

In a separate incident linked to the Taliban insurgency, 10 Taliban rebels were killed after attacking an Afghan police checkpost in the western province of Badghis on the Iranian border, the interior ministry said.

One police officer was also killed in the attack late Monday in the province’s Balmurghab district, the ministry’s spokesman, Zemarai Bashary, told AFP. Two other police were wounded, he added.

Elswhere, in Zabul province, another Taliban-dominated region in the south, two rebels were killed when a bomb they were trying to plant on a road to target security forces exploded prematurely, police official Mohammad Zaman said.

And the defence ministry said three rebels were killed in separate Afghan army operations elsewhere. Two had been captured.

The unrest in Afghanistan last year claimed about 6,000 lives, many of them rebels.

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