Nato raids kill 15 in Afghan mountains
Coalition warplanes swooped down on militants withdrawing from a firefight with police into the mountains of eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 15 of them, officials said.
Ismatullah Alizai, the police chief of Paktia province, said no one was hurt in the initial battle at the government headquarters in the town of Sayid Karam.
First Lt. Nathan Perry, a spokesman for the US-led coalition, said an unmanned drone identified the retreating gunmen and "close air support was used to engage and kill" them.
Alizai said 15 militants were killed. All the bodies as well as four wounded fighters were at a local hospital, he said.
Also Tuesday, senior German defence officials said the country planned to increase the number of its troops in Afghanistan by 1,000 this fall. The proposed increase would bring the total German commitment to the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force to 4,500, Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung and military chief Wolfgang Schneiderhan said.
They also recommended extending the deployment of the troops through at least December 2009.
Fighting between Taliban-led insurgents and foreign and government forces is surging across the south and east of Afghanistan. Nearly 2,000 people have died in insurgency-related violence so far this year.
The coalition said Monday that it had killed about 55 insurgents in a two-day battle in neighbouring Paktika province. Paktika borders Pakistan, where some Taliban and al-Qaeda militants are based.
On Tuesday, officials also reported clashes in the remote northeastern border province of Nuristan.
Ghulam Farooq, the deputy provincial police chief, said foreign and Afghan troops had been battling rebels in the mountains north of the main town of Kamdesh for three days. He said four militants were killed on Monday.
Perry, the coalition spokesman, reported four separate clashes in the area early Sunday. Nato troops exchanged fire with insurgents and called in air support, he said. Reports indicated "several" militants died, he said.
Meanwhile, police said a female officer was shot dead by two assailants on a motorcycle in western Afghanistan.
The gunmen fired three bullets into the officer's torso as she walked home from work on Monday in Guzara district of Herat province, police spokesman Raouf Ahmadi said.
Two suspects have been arrested, Ahmadi said. The motive not immediately clear.