Foreign News

50 Afghan Taliban leaders killed in rocket strike, U.S. military says

Written by Maritime First

…As Police says 10 people beheaded in Mozambique attack***

The U.S. Military said 50 senior Taliban commanders were killed in an artillery strike on a meeting in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand.

Details of the operation emerged as fighting continued in other parts of Afghanistan, where the Taliban, aiming to restore their version of hardline Islamic law, launched their annual spring offensive in April.

Gunmen in Kabul, the capital, attacked the heavily fortified interior ministry, battling security forces for more than two hours before the assault was suppressed.

There were also serious incidents in Takhar province in the north, in Loghar, east of the capital, and Kandahar in the south, keeping up a pattern of attacks across the country.

The U.S. military said the May 24 meeting in Helmand’s district of Musa Qala involved commanders from a number of Afghan provinces, including neighboring Farah, where Taliban fighters this month briefly threatened to overrun the provincial capital.

“We think the meeting was to plan next steps,” said Lt.- Col. Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. While the strike by an artillery rocket system would disrupt Taliban operations, it would not necessarily mean any interruption to the fighting, he said.

He, however, said the attack in one of the heartlands of the Taliban insurgency was a significant blow to the insurgents.

“It’s certainly a notable strike,” he said, adding that several other senior and lower level commanders had been killed during operations over a 10-day period this month.

The Taliban dismissed the report as “propaganda” and said the attack had hit two civilian houses in Musa Qala, killing five civilians and wounding three.

“This was a civilian residential area, which had no connection with the Taliban,” spokesman Qari Ahmadi said in a statement.

In the northern province of Takhar, Taliban fighters in the Dasht-e Qala district center captured the governor’s compound and police headquarters on Wednesday but heavy fighting was continuing, police spokesman Khalil Aseer said.

In Loghar, the Taliban claimed an attack on a police station in the provincial capital, Pul-e Alam, which killed three police and wounded 12, among them four police and eight civilians.

Shahpoor Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said three attackers who sought to enter the police station in the early morning hours triggered a three-hour gunbattle that ended when all three were killed.

Elsewhere, three civilians were killed and 13 wounded by an explosion in the southern city of Kandahar that appeared to have targeted a mechanics’ workshop repairing Afghan army vehicles, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

In the meantime, police in Mozambique said 10 people were beheaded in an attack over the weekend in an area where previous Islamist attacks have been reported.

Radio Mocambique said police in the capital Maputo could not immediately give details of the attack in a village near the town of Palma, close to Mozambique’s border with Tanzania and near one of the world’s biggest untapped offshore gas fields.

“unknown persons killed by decapitation at least 10 people in recent days in the administrative post of Olumbi, Palma district, in the north of Cabo Delgado province,” Radio Mocambique said in a brief report.

The radio station did not provide any further details on the attack.

Portuguese news agency Lusa, quoting national broadcaster TVM, said two children were among those beheaded but this could not be independently verified.

Palma district administrator David Machimbuko told the station that authorities had moved security teams to areas where further attacks were feared.

Police spokesman Inacio Dina said officers were gathering information from a team dispatched to the north.

Local media have reported a series of attacks carried out by Islamists since October 2017, when police stations were attacked in the north, a predominantly Muslim region.

Mozambique has not been a focal point of Islamist militant activity in the past and police have been reluctant to ascribe the attacks to Islamists.

Muslims make up about 18 per cent of Mozambique’s population.

Roman Catholics form the largest single religious grouping, with about 30 per cent of its 30 million people.

The gas project is located in the Rovuma basin off the northern coast of Mozambique, an area where oil firms are exploring.

Experts say the reserves are enough to supply energy to Britain, France, Germany and Italy for over 20 years.



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