Taliban Commander, 19 Others Killed in Afghanistan

U.S.-led coalition forces killed a Taliban (search) commander and 19 other militants in fighting in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said Monday.

Mullah Abdul Razzaq Hafees (search), one of several Taliban commanders in the country's south, was killed about 10 days ago in Dai Chupan district, about 60 miles north of Kandahar (search), said Khan Mohammed, the city's military commander.

A spokesman at Bagram Air Base, the U.S. military headquarters, said he could not confirm the Hafees' death.

Nineteen other Taliban militants were also killed in the battle, said Jan Mohammed Khan, the governor of neighboring Uruzgan province. However, he said the clash took place in Uruzgan, which borders Dai Chupan.

It was not immediately clear why there were discrepancies in the reported locations of the fighting, though borders between provinces and districts are not clearly marked in most of the country.

Jan Mohammad Khan said Afghan troops did most of the fighting and were backed up by U.S. commandos.

Taliban rebels have dramatically stepped up operations in recent months. In addition to attacks against U.S. forces, they have also increasingly targeted Afghan government officials and international aid workers, who have been forced to suspend reconstruction projects in several parts of the country.

Hafees' reported death comes just weeks after two other Taliban commanders were killed in the country's south.

On Sept. 18, the U.S. military killed Mullah Mohammed Gul Niazi, a former Taliban commander who had been leading attacks against U.S. forces.

Two days earlier, Hafiz Abdul Rahim, a former police chief with the Taliban before the U.S.-led coalition ousted the hardline Islamic militia in late 2001, died in a shootout with Afghan soldiers.