POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 2:02 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2010
KABUL, Afghanistan » Afghan and coalition forces killed at least 15 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan during an overnight search for a senior Taliban leader in remote eastern Afghanistan, NATO said Saturday.
Security forces came under attack near a compound in Sherzad district of Nangarhar province on Friday night, sparking a battle that killed the insurgents. NATO also used airstrikes in the operation.
The insurgents were the only casualties, NATO said.
Authorities were trying to determine whether the Taliban leader the troops were searching for was among those killed. The leader was not identified, but NATO said he helped foreign fighters, raised money and planned attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
Mohammad Hassan, a district chief in the area, gave a slightly higher estimate of the deaths, saying at least 18 Taliban were killed in the fighting, including a local commander. He said the airstrikes hit during a Taliban meeting.
Security forces destroyed the weapons found on the insurgents, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers and hand grenades.
Also Saturday, NATO said Afghan and coalition forces called in an airstrike to destroy a network of tunnels and underground bunkers in a Taliban-occupied area of Musa Qala district in Helmand province.
The strike came during a daylong sweep to clear Taliban cells in the province. Coalition forces searched more than 70 buildings in the area, discovering weapons caches that included detonation cords, 200 blasting caps for roadside bombs, a rocket-propelled grenade and a 40-pound bag of homemade explosives.