NATO kills Taliban commander; airstrike kills 10

Militants suspected in kidnappings and were holding at least 15 people hostage.

US afghanistan 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
US afghanistan 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
NATO reported Thursday killing a senior Taliban commander, while an airstrike left at least 10 insurgents dead and four civilians wounded. The military alliance said Bismullah Akhund, an insurgent leader in the southern province of Helmand, was killed Saturday in Naw Zad district. NATO accused Akhund of supplying weapons and roadside bombs that have killed Afghan and foreign forces in the area - a hub of the insurgency that is wracking Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a defense ministry spokesman, said "tens of enemy" were killed during a joint NATO-Afghan army operation in the western province of Herat. NATO confirmed it launched an "effective" airstrike against insurgents. It provided no other details. There were varying accounts of the death toll. Humayun Azizi, head of the provincial council, said the raid targeted a militant cell in the Zerko area of Shindand district and 10 to 12 militants were killed in the airstrikes. Four wounded civilians - two children, a man and a woman - were brought to Herat hospital for treatment, he said. Abdul Shukur, the Shindand police chief, said three houses were destroyed. He said two local militant commanders and two of their sons were among the dead. Shukur said the militants were suspected in kidnappings and were holding at least 15 people hostage. It was not clear if any of those allegedly held were killed during the raid. On Wednesday, the US-led coalition said eight civilians died in airstrikes called in after one of its patrols came under attack in neighboring Farah province. The issue of civilian casualties has caused friction between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO troops, and has undermined the standing of Western-backed President Hamid Karzai.