70 plus Taliban killed in two operations

NY Times:

Two separate attacks killed more than 70 Taliban insurgents on Saturday, NATO officials said, although some local residents said that civilians were among the victims.

In eastern Laghman Province, a combined force of Afghan and coalition soldiers airlifted troops into the Masooda village in the Alishing district to clear the area of insurgents, the international forces said in a statement. After coming under fire, they called for air support, and 32 insurgents were killed, according to Afghan police officials. NATO officials separately put the death toll at “more than 30.”

...

In the other encounter, in eastern Khost Province, 42 insurgents were killed at about 2 a.m. on Saturday when they were spotted trying to cross the border from Pakistan, said Maj. Stephen Platt, a NATO spokesman at Forward Operating Base Salerno.

The Khost provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Hakim Isahqzai, put the insurgent death toll even higher, with at least 82 killed and reports that the final toll may reach 200. There were no complaints of civilian casualties in that encounter, in the Mogholgai region of the Gurboz district.

General Isahqzai also said that the police had arrested a major Taliban commander, Mollawi Salim, from Logar Province, at a checkpoint in Khost, and handed him over to American soldiers at the Salerno operating base for detention. The police general said that Mr. Salim was a well-known figure who was responsible for arranging suicide bombings.

...
The Taliban claimed some of the first casualties were civilians, but they always use that lie. Getting the Taliban infiltrating from Pakistan is a real coup. It suggest that the enemy needs reinforcements from their Pakistan sanctuary. It is likely they were either Pakistan militants or al Qaeda volunteers.

The two battles suggest the operational tempo is picking up with the addition of US troops in the surge as well as better surveillance of avenues of approach. It is also possible that the US has intelligence assets who tipped them off to the enemy movement. Even if that is not the case, the enemy will probably think it is the case and attempt a purge of its ranks.

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