NATO claims it is choking off insurgents' supplies

AP News
Posted: Oct 18, 2010 1:16 PM
NATO claims it is choking off insurgents' supplies

The NATO coalition said Monday that Afghan and international forces have choked insurgent supply routes in some parts of Afghanistan, prompting militants to extort money from citizens to keep their operations sufficiently supplied.

"We are seeing instances where insurgents are receiving faulty ammunition and weapons through their supply channels," said German Brigadier Gen. Josef Blotz, a spokesman for the NATO command in Kabul. "We have even seen instances where Taliban spokesmen attempt to blame this phenomenon on the coalition."

Insurgents, however, are adapting, according to the coalition, which has been highlighting indications of progress in the war in the run-up to President Barack Obama's December review of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. NATO military officials claim the buildup of tens of thousands of international troops is taking its toll on the insurgents. They also acknowledge fierce fighting against resilient militants, especially in the south.

"One way insurgents are coping with deficiencies is by expanding illicit taxation on Afghans in villages around the country," he said, adding that insurgents were levying illegal taxes on farmers in Kunduz province in the north. "Money extracted from farmers is reportedly being used to fund further insurgent violence."

Blotz said that in the past two weeks, six Taliban leaders, including two shadow governors, have been killed and another was captured in the west.

He also said coalition forces found three large weapons caches in the eastern provinces of Khost and Paktika last week. Afghan and coalition forces seized more than 6,600 pounds (3,000 kilograms) of narcotics by stopping vehicles in southern Afghanistan on Friday, he said. Also, in the past week, 8,000 pounds (3,800 kilograms) of opium, heroin and ammonium nitrate used to make explosives were confiscated in Helmand province, he said.

Separately, airstrikes by international coalition forces on Sunday killed up to 14 suspected insurgents. An airstrike in northern Baghlan province reportedly killed around 10 people Sunday, a NATO statement said. It had targeted a leader accused of planting bombs and supplying cash and weapons to Taliban leadership in the area. NATO was not able to confirm the number of casualties because neither international or Afghan soldiers could get to the area.

Another airstrike in southwestern Nimroz province killed four fighters who were planting a bomb, said provincial police chief Abdul Jabar Pardeli. A Taliban commander was among those killed by Sunday night's strike, he said.

Violence has risen in the south of the country as NATO and Afghan forces have for months attempted to push insurgents from their strongholds in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar.

Gunmen killed nine Afghan workers who were guarding a NATO supply convoy in the south of the country, police said Monday. The attack in Gereshk district happened on Sunday night, said the deputy police chief for Helmand, Kamaluddin Khan.

NATO reported that a joint Afghan and coalition force discovered an insurgent weapons factor in Sangin district of Helmand. The six 55-pound (25-kilogram) barrels of homemade explosives, scales, a boiler room and drying area were destroyed in a precision airstrike, the coalition said.

Meanwhile, NATO forces said a detainee captured in an operation in the south was found dead in his holding cell Sunday. NATO said the man was being held in Kandahar province after being detained a day earlier, and the alliance is investigating the circumstances of his death. The coalition gave no further information.

Also in Kandahar province, the bodies of two men from a village in Arghistan district were found Monday, according to a statement released by the provincial governor's office. One man was known for his support of reconstruction, development and reconciliation being pushed by the Afghan government; the other did not appear to have any relation to work backing government interests, the statement said.

In western Afghanistan, the Interior Ministry said Monday that insurgents attacked a construction company in the Anardara district of Farah province on Saturday and kidnapped 20 employees of the company. Two insurgents also were killed. The ministry did not disclose any other details. The Afghan National Police have launched an investigation into the attack.

Also in the west, a roadside bomb killed three civilians Monday morning in Herat city, police said. Police spokesman Noor Nikzad said the bomb was hidden in a sack in an irrigation ditch. When officers went to inspect the object, it exploded. The three victims had been walking nearby. Nikzad said one police officer was wounded.

In the east, three Afghan civilians traveling in vehicles were killed and two others were wounded by a roadside bomb Monday in Andar district of Ghazni province. Also in the east, member of the Haqqani network, who coordinated homemade bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition troops, was captured Sunday night in the Tere Zayi district of Khost province.


Associated Press Writer Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.