Senior IMU leader targeted in Samangan province

Afghan and Coalition special operation forces conducted a raid targeting a senior leader for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) two days ago in northern Afghanistan. This is the 19th operation targeting a member of the al Qaeda-linked IMU this year. The International Security Assistance Force reported:

Afghan and coalition security forces detained two insurgents during an operation in search of a senior Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader in Darah-ye Suf-e Pa’in district, Samangan province, yesterday. The leader is believed to direct the activities of insurgent fighters in the area, and has personally planned high-profile attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, in addition to attacks against civilians.

ISAF could not report the nationality of the targeted leader or the detained insurgents but did tell The Long War Journal that there are “indications of Uzbek involvement.”

This is the first operation launched against the IMU in Samangan province this year and the first since March 23, 2011. In the past, ISAF reported that Samangan was home to IMU training camps for fighters operating in the region. Based on a study by The Long War Journal, so far this year the majority of operations targeting the IMU have occurred in neighboring Baghlan and Kunduz provinces (six each), while four have occurred in Takhar, and one in both Balkh and Jawzjan provinces.

Early 2013 has seen the highest rate of operations against the IMU so far in the war. Last week there were five raids, which resulted in the capture of one senior IMU commander and two facilitators. When asked about the increase in operations, ISAF explained that the start of the Afghan fighting season and intelligence gains were the cause.

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