Taliban field commander killed in Helmand province


Afghan and NATO special operations forces have killed a senior Taliban commander during a joint raid in Helmand province, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Mullah Abdul Bari, along with 29 Taliban fighters, were killed in a "five-hour coordinated attack on four targets" in the region between the Musa Qala and Kajaki districts of Helmand province, News.com.au reported. Bari was reported to have been injured during the fighting but died of his wounds in a hospital, the Afghan Ministry of Defense stated.

Combined Joint Task Force-82, the US military command in Afghanistan confirmed the engagement, but did not confirm Bari's death. The 1st Company of 201st Commando Kandak, or battalion, of the Afghan National Army and "Coalition forces" - a term often used for Special Forces - conducted a clear-and-hold operation designed "to establish security, disrupt insurgent activity and deny enemy sanctuary" in the region north of Musa Qala. NATO aircraft targeted and destroyed Taliban fighting positions, but no casualties were reported.

Eleven Taliban were also captured during the raid. Afghan and Coalition forces also seized over 1,000 pounds of heroin, and destroyed heroin and opium processing laboratories. A large weapons cache was also discovered and destroyed.

Bari was one of the top remaining Taliban field commanders able to launch deadly attacks in Helmand and Uruzgan provinces. He led Taliban operations against the British in northern Helmand province in the Kajaki, Musa Qala, and Baghran districts. Bari was the former governor of Helmand under the Taliban regime. He hid out in Baghran after the fall of the Taliban in 2002, and was allowed to return to his home by the then-governor of Helmand that same year.

Bari recently took credit for abducting the spokesman for the governor of Uruzgan during last year's violent spring. He had several lieutenants under his command, including some who coordinated suicide bomb attacks against NATO and Afghan forces. Bari was thought to have been captured during the Pakistani raid on Mullah Obaidullah's hideout in Quetta last year, but evidence was never clearly presented of his capture.

Mullah Abdul Salaam, the recently turned Taliban leader in Musa Qala, fought along side Bari prior to abandoning the Taliban in December 2007. Salaam addressed Bari's activities at a meeting with village elders in mid-January. "Abdul Bari is our brother," Salaam said. "He can come and sit among us.   He is from this land. Speak with him. But don't let him be stupid. If he is not on the right path then don't let yourself be sacrificed for him. Tell him to take his jihad somewhere else."

Northern Helmand province is a strategic region

Northern Helmand province is a strategic region and a long-time haven for Taliban forces. NATO and Afghan forces have sought to wrest the region from the Taliban for the past year. The Kajaki Dam in northern Helmand province has been a major reconstruction project, and the Afghan government hopes to restore the dam to provide energy for the region.

Operation Achilles was launched in March 2007 to preempt the Taliban's 2007 "spring offensive" and secure the upper Helmand River Valley. A series of battles were fought in the districts of Girsk, Sangin, Kajaki, and Musa Qala. The Taliban consolidated power in Musa Qala after the British negotiated with the Taliban in late 2006 to turn the district center to "tribals." A joint Afghan and NATO force, along with Salaam, liberated Musa Qala from the Taliban in December 2007.

Three senior Taliban leaders -- Mullah Dadullah, Mullah Berader, and Qari Faiz Mohammad -- have been killed in strikes in Helmand province during 2007.


Matt Dupee contributed to this report.



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban field commander killed in Helmand province"

Posted by Neo at February 21, 2008 11:47 AM ET:

We seem to be seeing quite a few of these leadership figures go down in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Our intelligence operations in the area seem to be fairly mature. Pretty soon the bad guys will have to check the fly on the wall and make sure it isn't working for the CIA.

Maybe instead of trying to train Pakistani soldiers we should bring cell phone service to Waziristan and flood the area with GPS cell phones.

Posted by Marlin at February 21, 2008 12:47 PM ET:

The Associated Press article, about what I assume is the same battle, mentions that two Taliban regional subcommanders were killed, but doesn't mention Mullah Bari.

Afghan and NATO-led troops killed two regional Taliban commanders in southern Afghanistan

[...]

The joint NATO-Afghan forces killed commander Mullah Abdul Matin and his associate, Mullah Karim Agha, in the southern province of Helmand on Monday, the alliance said in a statement.

Associated Press: Taliban Commanders Killed in Afghanistan

I also found it interesting that Mullah Bari died in a hospital. I wonder if it was government or Taliban controlled?

Posted by David M at February 21, 2008 2:41 PM ET:

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/21/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by sfvet at February 22, 2008 3:43 AM ET:

Keep smokin em boys.

Posted by Rhyno327/lrsd at February 22, 2008 11:23 AM ET:

Wat do they mean he "died in a hospital"? Thats the part i do not understand. If I was a t-ban commander i would not sleep soundly at all at nite. We keep dropping them, and another moves up. Until they are run out of Helmand, killed off, there will be violence. When they are a non-factor in Helmand, it would be time to go to the ROOTS of the problem. That root would be in P-stan's NWFP's.

Posted by matt at February 22, 2008 3:24 PM ET:

Rhyno327,

Unfortunately, the Taliban have infiltrated several medical clinics in areas under their control, especially in their epicenter in northern Helmand. Last year, three Italian NGO run medical facilities were confiscated by the Afghan govt. after one its staffer's was arrested for collusion with the Taliban. The incident happened shortly after the captured Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo was exchanged for five Taliban prisoners.

The outfit is called Emergency, and is led by an anti-US, pro-communist Taliban sympathizer, and Italian national named Gino Strada. After the political flap ended, Afghan officials pleaded with Emergency to resume its activities. They have refused in light of their employee who is still behind bars. It appears some of these clinics were previously, and probably still are, run by Taliban sympathizers.

There is an infamous photograph showing what appears to be Gino Strada shaking hands with a released Taliban spokesman, Abdul Latif Hakimi shortly after that incident.

More on that can be found here: http://publiuspundit.com/2007/04/empowering_terrorists.php


A Taliban figure in Helmand named Mullah Ahmad, is the Taliban Medical General. He previously ran a 400-bed hospital and coordinated the UN's anti-polio drive last year in Helmand's Musa Qala district, then held by the insurgents. He likely has a hand in current Taliban clinics operation in the region.

Posted by Marlin at February 22, 2008 9:21 PM ET:

It appears that Mullah Abdul Matin and his associate, Mullah Karim Agha were killed in a separate battle from Mullah Abdul Bari.

A Taliban warlord behind suicide attacks on British troops has been killed during a daring operation in Afghanistan, it was reported today.

The Special Boat Service ambushed Mullah Abdul Matin as he crossed a desert on a motorbike.

He was shot dead by troops from the elite division of the Royal Navy after they were dropped into his path by helicopter.

Reports said Matin opened fire with an AK47 rifle, but was shot dead along with two guards - including key Taliban lieutenant Mullah Karim Agha.

Matin, who was in his 40s, was killed on Monday near Gereshk in Helmand Province.

Scotsman: Key Taliban warlord killed in ambush

Posted by JusCruzn at February 25, 2008 11:15 AM ET:

Bravo!!!! KEEP KILLING TERRORISTS!