26 militants killed in Afghanistan clashes

Kabul: At least 26 militants were killed in military operations in Afghanistan over the past two days as Taliban insurgents attempted to overrun the strategically important Yamgan district in Badakhshan province, the government said on Wednesday.

Afghanistan police backed by the army have killed over two dozen armed insurgents in the conflict-plagued country since Tuesday, Xinhua quoted the Interior Ministry as saying.

“Units of police backed by the army have carried out series of operations in several provinces over the past 24 hours. As a result 26 insurgents were killed, 19 were injured and four others were detained,” the ministry said in a statement.

In another development, a 15-member Taliban group renounced violence and surrendered to the government in the eastern Kunar province on Wednesday, provincial governor said.

“Today (Wednesday), we warmly welcome our 15 brothers who denounced the hostility and joined the peace and reconciliation process. The government will spare no efforts to help them rejoin their families and provide them jobs,” governor Wahidullah Kalemzai said.

The surrendered group, which was active in Saokai district over the past couple of years under the command of Akhtar Mohammad, also handed over 15 weapons to police.

Taliban militants who have intensified activities are yet to make comment on government claims about killing militants in Kunar province.

Meanwhile, the Taliban group in a fresh attempt to consolidate their positions in the northern Badakhsan province launched massive offensive in the strategically important Yamgan district on Wednesday.

“Taliban group’s attempts to gain ground and capture Yamgan district on Wednesday morning triggered gun battle and both sides suffered have casualties,” head of provincial council Abdullah Naji Nazari said.

Nazari also warned the district might collapse if the government failed to send reinforcement.

Meantime, Zabihullah Mujahid, a self-proclaimed Taliban spokesman, confirmed the clash in Yamgan district and capturing ground near the district headquarters, a claim denied by the provincial official as baseless.

Both the government and militants, according to Afghan observers, would do their best to gain more ground and consolidate their positions ahead of snowfall in the mountainous country.