16 'foreign' rebels killed in fierce Afghan battle
International military planes called in by Afghan security forces killed 16 rebels, apparently all foreigners, suspected of preparing an attack in the country's east, police said yesterday.
Six rebels were injured and one was captured following the raid late Saturday in the province of Paktika on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, provincial deputy police chief Farouq Sangari told AFP.
The captured militant, an Uzbek national, told the authorities the dead were all foreign nationals, from Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Chechnya, the official said. This could not be independently verified.
The security forces had acted after intelligence reports that the rebels were preparing to attack the headquarters of the Sarobi district, he said.
Insurgents linked to the Taliban movement and its allies in al-Qaeda are said to have bases in Pakistan from where they launch attacks inside Afghanistan as part of an insurgency against the US-backed government.
The Taliban was removed from government in a US-led invasion that started exactly six years ago.
As part of their campaign, they capture remote districts secured only by poorly armed and undermanned police forces, and are usually easily forced out again.
They are also stepping up their use of suicide attacks, which the Afghan government says shows the influence of foreign militants.