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Taliban Fighters Killed

A senior commander is among 15 militants who die in clashes with U.S. and Afghan forces.

September 16, 2003|From Times Wire Services

SPIN BULDAK, Afghanistan — A senior commander was among 15 Taliban fighters killed in overnight clashes with U.S.-led forces and government troops in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Monday.

"Fifteen Taliban were killed, including Mullah Abdur Rahim, in Maruf district," Afghan Foreign Ministry official Khalid Khan Achakzai said. Maruf is about 80 miles east of Kandahar in rugged mountains near the Pakistani border.

The U.S. military confirmed the death toll.

Rahim controlled Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan, where the militia has become alarmingly active recent weeks, both militarily and among the civilian population.

Suspected Taliban militants in the eastern province of Paktia have recently threatened to cut off the nose of anyone who listened to music or of any man who shaved his beard -- both of which are violations of their strict interpretation of Islam, said Asadaullah Wafa, the governor of the region.

Mohammed Yar, a resident, said about 200 Taliban militants visited a bazaar Saturday and issued a similar warning, distributing leaflets threatening "heavy punishment" for anyone who cooperated with U.S. forces.

In Belgium on Monday, NATO Secretary-General George Robertson said the alliance was considering a U.S.-German request for the international peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan to spread outside the capital, Kabul.

NATO currently provides 5,500 troops in Kabul. About 11,500 foreign troops are also in Afghanistan in a U.S.-led force.

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