NATO air strike kills 15 insurgents in Afghanistan

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KABUL: NATO said it had killed at least 15 insurgents in an air strike in northeast Afghanistan on Friday.

The US-led NATO force has stepped up attacks on insurgents since this spring under Washington’s new Afghan war strategy, which aims to root out Taliban insurgents before drawing down the military presence next year.

The force said the air strikes took place after soldiers battling the rebels in Kunar province, a troubled region on the Pakistani border, called in air support.

"After positively identifying insurgents setting up what has been known as a historical attack position in the area an air weapons team engaged them, resulting in 15 insurgents killed," the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement.

Afghan leaders have criticized the use of air assaults on the grounds that they often cause civilian casualties, but NATO said no civilians were killed.

"Initial reports indicate all rounds were on target and there were no injuries to civilians in the area," the force added.

ISAF said it had killed up to 114 insurgents in September, while another 114 suspected insurgents were detained.

"More importantly, the security force captured or killed more than 105 Haqqani Network and Taliban leaders," the force said in a statement, referring to Taliban-linked insurgent groups.

"These leadership figures include shadow governors, leaders, sub-leaders and weapons facilitators."

The statement could not be independently verified.

NATO lost 57 soldiers in Afghanistan in September, compared to 79 the previous month, according to a tally by AFP.

So far 547 foreign soldier have lost their lives in Afghanistan this year, compared with 521 last year.

There are more than 150,000 foreign, mostly US and NATO troops stationed in Afghanistan, helping the Kabul government fight the Taliban, which has waged its insurgency since being ousted from government in a US-led invasion in 2001.


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