Taliban, rebels fight Afghan, U.S. forces
Radio intercepts indicate two top Taliban commanders are with dozens of rebels battling in the southern mountains against a blistering barrage from Afghan and U.S. forces, senior government officials said Thursday.
The death toll from three days of fighting was reported at 114 -- including 102 insurgents. Afghan officials said they had dealt the insurgency a body blow, but such claims have been made many times before in a war that refuses to wind down.
Many Afghans fear an upsurge in fighting since spring could been a sign that the insurgency is strengthening, and Afghan and U.S. officials have warned that violence could get even worse before parliamentary elections in September.
Mashal said three other lower-ranking Taliban commanders were among the 102 rebels killed in fighting since Tuesday. The death toll was 26 higher than Wednesday. Two of the dead were Chechens, three were Pakistanis and one appeared to be an Arab, said Gen. Salim Khan, a police commander at the battlefield.
Twelve Afghan policemen and soldiers have also been killed, officials said.
The U.S. military has reported a lower death toll than the government. On Wednesday, the U.S. command said 49 insurgents had been killed, and spokeswoman Lt. Cindy Moore said Thursday that there had been no update since then and referred queries to the Afghan government.
Afghan officials blame a recent upsurge in violence on insurgents sneaking in from Pakistan and are urging the government in Islamabad to crack down on militants there.
About 390 suspected insurgents have been reported killed since March, after snows melted on mountain tracks used by the rebels. In the same time, 29 U.S. troops, 38 Afghan police and soldiers and 125 civilians have been killed.
No, I'm not blaming our troops-- I'm blaming the fact that we didn't finish the job in Afghanistan before we went storming off, half-cocked, to Iraq. It truly saddens and sickens me that the war in Afghanistan is the first and most often forgotten front in this war. They get so much of the gore but a lot less glory.