Wave of Attacks Prompts Taliban Hunt in Afghanistan

Security forces swept through remote hills in northwestern Afghanistan on Monday in search of several hundred suspected Taliban fighters blamed for launching a recent wave of attacks.

The fighters' names and native villages were discovered on lists found in the pockets of five senior Taliban commanders captured during fighting in Badghis province last week, said Abdul Wahed Tawaqli, spokesman for the governor of neighboring Herat province.

Those captured included Mullah Badar, a former governor of Badghis under the Taliban, whose government was ousted by U.S. forces and Afghan opposition groups in 2001.

The latest troubles in Badghis began April 1 when up to 500 suspected Taliban fighters launched attacks on Akazia and Sipia villages, about 50 miles east of the provincial capital, Qalai-e-Naw.

Tawaqli said 150 Taliban were killed in a day of battles, 50 were captured and 300 others fled into the mountains.

Eleven soldiers loyal to the province's governor were killed and seven were wounded in the fighting with rocket launchers, grenades and automatic weapons, he said.

Tawaqli said authorities had intelligence the attacks were coming, and Herat Gov. Ismail Khan sent 300 troops to Badghis to help security forces fend off the assaults and hunt down the culprits.

The 50 alleged Taliban captured during the fighting were transferred to Herat, Tawaqli said.

"In the pockets of these senior commanders, we found lists detailing the names and native villages of those who've been attacking us," Tawaqli said. "We've been looking for them house by house, one by one."

Tawaqli said several suspected Taliban had already been arrested in Tuesday's sweep.

Afghan authorities say Taliban remnants are reorganizing in an effort to destabilize the fledgling government of President Hamid Karzai.

Southern Afghanistan in particular has been wracked by several attacks in the last few weeks by suspected Taliban fighters, including the murder of a Red Cross worker Ricardo Munguia and an ambush on a U.S. military convoy that killed two American servicemen.