NATO-Afghan strike kills 11 militants

By Kim Gamel
Associated Press / January 28, 2010

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KABUL, Afghanistan - A joint NATO-Afghan assault in northern Afghanistan killed 11 suspected Taliban militants yesterday, including two senior commanders, police said.

The operation, which involved attack aircraft and ground forces, targeted a Taliban compound west of the capital of Baghlan Province, according to General Kabir Andarabi, provincial police chief.

NATO did not comment on the report, saying it could not discuss ongoing operations.

Andarabi said no civilian casualties were reported. He said a police source confirmed that 11 militants were killed in the operation near Pul-e-Khumri.

The attack occurred on the eve of an international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London that is expected to focus on a government reconciliation plan aimed at persuading some Taliban militants to switch sides.

In a related development, five former Taliban officials were removed from a UN sanctions list earlier this week. President Hamid Karzai has been pressing for the removal of certain Taliban figures from the list, which imposes punitive measures such as a travel ban and an assets freeze.

The UN said Tuesday that the sanctions committee approved the removal of Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, a former foreign minister and confidant of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, and four others.

The UN did not mention the reconciliation plan but said the decision was made Monday after a review.

Sanctions were imposed on the five in 2001.