Afghan forces kill 17 militants, detain 12 in Taliban ex-stronghold


Afghan security forces raided Taliban hideouts in their former strongholds the southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces, killing over a dozen Taliban fighters and arresting a dozen other on Saturday, officials said Sunday.

In the first offensive against Taliban insurgents in Marja district of Helmand province, 16 militants were killed Saturday night, Omar Zawak the spokesman for Helmand's governor said Sunday.

"Acting on a tip off the aircraft of national security forces raided Taliban hideouts in Marja district of Helmand province Saturday night killing 16 rebels," Zawak told Xinhua.

He also described the attack as a blow to the Taliban fighters in Helmand province, saying elimination of over a dozen militants would demoralize the armed opponents.

Earlier in an identical operation, Afghan security forces captured a dozen militants in Kandahar province on Saturday, southern Kandahar's provincial administration said in a statement released on Sunday.

"Twelve Taliban militants including their judge were detained and another one was killed in clearance operation by Afghan National Security Forces in Panjwai district of Kandahar Province yesterday," the statement added.

The detained Taliban fighters are under investigations to track down the network of the armed insurgents operating in the province, the statement added.

Both Kandahar and Helmand, which had served as the former strongholds of the Taliban outfit in the past, have been regarded as Taliban hotbed nowadays as the militants loyal to the fundamentalist group are more active in the said provinces than in any other parts of the conflict-ridden Afghanistan.

Taliban militants, who have been fighting to regain the power in the militancy-ridden Afghanistan, have yet to make comment.