ABOUT 80 Taliban were killed in a series of air raids by international military forces near eastern Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, officials said overnight.
About 65 of the rebels were killed in a single air assault late yesterday in eastern Paktia province on a "large group of Taliban", said Din Mohammad Darvish, a spokesman for the local administration. Four others were killed in a second assault targeting a vehicle carrying rebels in the same region of the province, Patan district, and four in a nearby area, he said.
Another three were killed in an air strike near Gardez, the capital of the restive province, he said. "Altogether 76 Taliban were killed in separate air strikes by coalition forces," Mr Darvish said.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and separate US-led coalition could only immediately confirm the last incident, which they said was targeted at three militants spotted planting a bomb near Gardez.
The Afghan defence ministry announced earlier four other rebels were killed in a different part of Paktia, Zurmat, also yesterday. Seven were seized, it said. Casualty tolls in battles between insurgents and Afghan security forces and their international allies are often difficult to establish, with officials regularly issuing different numbers that cannot be verified.
Separately, two policemen were killed overnight in a roadside bomb blast in the country’s south, a police commander said. The south sees much of a Taliban-led insurgency that makes heavy use of such bombings.
The policemen were killed when a remotely detonated bomb struck their vehicle in Spin Boldak, a town on the border with Pakistan in the southern province of Kandahar, district police chief Abdul Raziq said.
The Taliban, toppled from government six years ago, are the main militant group behind a spiralling insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
Afghan and Western officials say the rebels and their allies in al-Qaeda have sanctuaries in the tribally administered areas of Pakistan on the border with Afghanistan.