U.S., Afghan forces kill suspected militant

/ Source: The Associated Press

Afghan and U.S. forces killed a militant and captured five others Tuesday, including a brother-in-law of the leader of the former Taliban government. A U.S. soldier reportedly was wounded in a separate attack.

Two rockets were fired Tuesday night into Kabul, the capital, blowing a hole in a busy main road and landing near a downtown theater. There were no casualties. The police chief, Gen. Baba Jan, blamed “the enemies of Afghanistan and its people” — shorthand here for Taliban militants and followers of warlords opposed to President Hamid Karzai’s government.

Karzai tried to quell a threat to coming national elections by shifting three militia commanders to different posts. Karzai has said warlords, not the Taliban, are the greatest threat to Afghanistan’s recovery from more than two decades of fighting.

Omar relative taken in shootout
Mullah Amanullah, a brother-in-law of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the fugitive Taliban leader, was detained near Deh Rawood, Omar’s hometown in Uruzgan province, 250 miles southwest of Kabul, Police Chief Rozi Khan told The Associated Press.

Afghan forces, acting on a tip, went to an area called Sangar and stopped Amanullah’s car. Amanullah started shooting, killing a police commander.

Authorities searched the car and found three remote-controlled bombs, a satellite telephone and an AK-47 assault rifle, Khan said.

It was not immediately known what role Amanullah held in the Taliban movement or whether he had any recent contact with Omar, who could have a large network of in-laws through his four wives.

Khan said Afghan authorities might hand Amanullah over to U.S. forces. Maj. Rick Peat, a U.S. military spokesman, had no information on the arrest.

Uruzgan and neighboring Zabul have been the focus of an insurgency by Omar’s followers since U.S. and Afghan forces deposed the Taliban regime in late 2001.

Gov. Khial Mohammed said one militant was killed and four others were captured Monday in Zabul when U.S. and Afghan troops searched villages for guns and rebels.

The five tried to hide in a house when soldiers arrived in a village in Nawbahar district, Mohammed said. “One of them was killed. The others tried to run away, but they were captured,” he said.

The U.S. soldier was shot and wounded in Arghandab, another district of Zabul, Deputy Police Chief Ghulam Jailani said.

“Four Taliban riding two motorcycles attacked two Humvees who were on patrol there,” Jailani said.

U.S. forces later seized a suspect, he said. The U.S. military had no immediate comment on that incident.

More violence in south
Farther south, dozens of suspected Taliban members armed with assault rifles attacked a district mayor’s office in Kandahar province, a local official said. One attacker was detained.

The U.S. military last week announced a new operation intended to prevent militants from derailing the Oct. 9 presidential election and April parliamentary vote. The United Nations warns that armed factions could use their guns to sway the vote.

The U.S. force, which recently peaked at 20,000, has been unable to halt a string of attacks on election workers, aid workers, officials and troops.

The elections initially were planned for June, but they were delayed partly because of the reluctance to disarm warlords who helped rout the Taliban.

Karzai’s spokesman, Jawed Ludin, said the shift of three top militia commanders would help.

“The government is trying to provide opportunities for the people to have free and fair elections,” Ludin said. “We are very happy that everyone is interested in cooperating.”

In an agreement reached this week, northern Gen. Atta Mohammed will become governor of Balkh province, Ludin said. That province includes Mazar-e-Sharif, the city where Mohammed’s mainly Tajik militia has feuded relentlessly with that of an Uzbek rival, Abdul Rashid Dostum.

In eastern Nangarhar, commander Hazrat Ali becomes provincial police chief. The corps commander of southern Kandahar, Khan Mohammed, makes the same switch.