Afghan, NATO forces kill or capture 200 militants

KABUL, Afghanistan — Tens of thousands of Afghan and NATO troops killed or captured 200 insurgents in eastern Afghanistan during two operations targeting the violent Haqqani network blamed for the majority of attacks in Kabul, the U.S.-led coalition said Monday.

At least 20 insurgents had ties to the network, which is affiliated with al-Qaida and the Taliban, said German Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a coalition spokesman. The others were from the Taliban or other groups, though not all have been identified.

About half of the Haqqani fighters were identified as leaders and the other half were bomb makers or individuals who help militants in various ways, such as distributing weapons and supplies, running safe houses or preparing areas for attack.

"Removal of the midlevel cell leaders with their expertise and leadership has significantly disrupted insurgent operations and degrades the Haqqani network's ability to coordinate and execute future attacks against combined team forces and the people of Afghanistan," Jacobson said.

Afghan and coalition forces have made gains in southern Afghanistan in the past two years, routing insurgents from their strongholds. They are now trying to hold that territory while shifting resources to deal with insurgent hot spots in the east.

The Haqqani network is based in Pakistan, but operates primarily in Paktika and Khost provinces along Afghanistan's eastern border. U.S. and Afghan officials have demanded that Pakistan do more to eliminate militant sanctuaries on its side of the border.

The Haqqanis aim to have maximum control over eastern Afghanistan and access to Kabul from the south, Jacobson said, adding they are "a family clan, a criminal patronage network and a terrorist organization."

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the coalition in Kabul, said the two operations began Oct. 12 and ended Oct. 20.

Afghan, NATO forces kill or capture 200 militants 10/24/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 24, 2011 11:06pm]

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