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Taliban commander, 7 others killed in NATO attack


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An airstrike and a raid by ground troops killed eight insurgents, including a senior Taliban leader who spearheaded attacks against Afghan security forces in northern Afghanistan, NATO said Thursday.

Maulawi Jawadullah — accused of organizing deadly ambushes, roadside bomb attacks, and abductions of Afghan police and soldiers — was killed in the airstrike Wednesday in Takhar province, an alliance statement said.

Jawadullah was linked to the recent deaths of 10 Afghan National Police officers during an attack on a police station in neighboring Kunduz province, the statement said.

Seven other Taliban also died in the assault, including three who opened fire from a forest when coalition forces moved in following the airstrike, NATO said.

Northern Takhar has been the scene of several NATO-Afghan operations recently against militants.

NATO announced Tuesday an insurgent involved in the kidnapping of a New York Times reporter was captured in Takhar. The unidentified militant was linked to senior Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leaders in northern Afghanistan and Pakistan, NATO said. He “terrorized the local populace,” and targeted police and local officials in attacks.

Journalist Stephen Farrell and translator and reporter Sultan Munadi were taken hostage in September 2009 when they went to cover a NATO airstrike of two hijacked fuel tankers that killed scores of Afghan civilians. British commandos rescued Farrell in a raid, but Munadi and a British commando were killed in the operation.

Last month, the Afghan government disputed NATO claims that a top insurgent and his deputy were killed in a Sept. 2 airstrike in Takhar. Afghan authorities said 10 civilians were killed and seven wounded in the attack, including a candidate vying for last month’s parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, NATO reported the death of a service member in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, without providing the nationality or specifying the location of the attack. The death was at least the 14th sustained by the NATO force so far in October, according to a count by The Associated Press.

In other violence, assailants threw a hand grenade at a wedding party, wounding four people in eastern Wardak province, Afghan’s Interior Ministry said Thursday. A ministry statement did not specify when the attack occurred.

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