A combined Afghan and Coalition special operations team captured a “senior Taliban military commissioner” and killed six fighters during a raid in the northern province of Takhar yesterday.
The senior commander, who was not named, served as the military commissioner for six of Takhar’s districts and had been promoted to serve as the deputy shadow governor just two days ago, the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release. He also facilitated foreign fighter suicide bombings and led attacks against Afghan forces in the province.
Takhar province has become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and allied terror groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The presence of terror cells has been detected in the districts of Rustaq and Darquadh; or two of Takhar’s 12 districts, according to an investigation by The Long War Journal.
The special operations forces captured the commander during raids on “a compound and a nearby campsite north of Dashi-e Qal’eh in Darquad district.” Six Taliban fighters were killed in ground and air attacks, while another fighter was captured along with the commander.
The Taliban commander replaced Mohammed Amin, a senior leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who also served as the deputy provincial shadow governor. Amin was killed during a strike on a convoy in the remote district of Mustaq on Sept. 2. Between eight and 12 of his bodyguards were also killed, according to ISAF.
The strike that killed Amin created controversy, as several provincial officials claimed that the attack killed 10 civilians who were members of a national parliamentary candidate’s convoy. Abdul Wahid Khurasani, the candidate who was among those wounded in the strike, claimed that ISAF aircraft targeted all six vehicles in the convoy and said the vehicles were clearly marked with campaign posters, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times also reported that “a former jihadist commander who had recently returned from an extended trip to Pakistan” had accompanied Khurasani. The commander was named Amanullah and “was a relative and a strong supporter of his candidacy.”
President Karzai initially condemned the Sept. 2 strike but has not ordered a follow-up investigation, indicating he accepts that the strike hit a legitimate target, US officials in Kabul told The Long War Journal.
“Karzai jumped the gun on this one and he isn’t going to push it,” a US official said.
ISAF is conducting an investigation, but has stood by the results of the strike. ISAF has not issued a statement acknowledging or apologizing for civilian casualties caused by the Sept. 2 strike, as it has in previous incidents.
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