11 Suspected Afghan Taliban Killed

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; 5:07 PM

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Police killed 11 suspected Taliban in two operations in southern Afghanistan, and a purported insurgent spokesman claimed Tuesday that militants executed a Turkish man kidnapped last month.

The renewed violence came as Britain's defense secretary warned that NATO must issue a clear signal by sending additional troops to confront a stronger than expected Taliban resistance.

Afghanistan has recently suffered its heaviest insurgent attacks since the Taliban was toppled in late 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

According to an Associated Press count based on reports from U.S., NATO and Afghan officials, at least 2,800 people have died so far this year in violence nationwide, including militants and civilians _ about 1,300 more than the toll for all of 2005.

The 11 suspected Taliban were killed in clashes late Monday and early Tuesday in Helmand province where most of 5,000 British troops are stationed, said Ghulam Rasool, a regional police chief. Four others were wounded.

Police killed eight militants and wounded four in the Khakhtapul area of Garmser district, Rasool said. A separate clash in the Miankhail area of the same district killed three Taliban.

Some of those killed were Pakistanis, Rasool claimed without providing further details.

Meanwhile, Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, claimed insurgents killed Mustafa Asimi, a Turkish citizen, who had been kidnapped in late August along with another Turk who was shot dead earlier.

An official with the Turkish company Konlit, where the victims worked, said a security officer by the name Mustafa Semih Turfal had been kidnapped in August, but there was no information on his whereabouts.

It was not immediately possible to verify Ahmadi's claim nor explain the different names given by insurgents and the company official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was unauthorized to speak to the media. No body has been found.

Ahmadi claimed militants killed the Turk in the Yakhthal area of southern Helmand's Gereshk district after his company failed to meet demands to leave Afghanistan.

As violence persisted, British Defense Secretary Des Browne urged NATO members to send additional troops asked for by the alliance's military commander.

"When (NATO) decides to use military force, all partners should be prepared to face equal risk," Brown said in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute in London.

The Taliban "cannot beat us," he said and urged NATO members to respond to the call for an additional 2,500 troops for the 21,000-strong NATO force.

"NATO nations must decide whether to back their investment, reaffirm their original intent and send a clear signal that NATO as an alliance is strong and determined to see the task through," Browne said .

Also Tuesday, President Hamid Karzai condemned triple bombings the day before that killed at least 20 in Kandahar, Farah and Kabul provinces as "heinous acts of terrorism (which) are against the values of Islam and humanity."

The deadliest attack happened in the usually calm western city of Herat, leaving 12 dead and 17 wounded, including the deputy police chief. A Kabul suicide car bombing killed at least four policemen.

Four Canadian soldiers were also killed in another suicide attack in Kandahar province's Panjwayi district a day after NATO troops ended a two-week anti-Taliban operation that they claimed killed at least 510 insurgents.

© 2006 The Associated Press