KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. and Afghan forces raided compounds suspected of being Al Qaeda sanctuaries in southeastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, seizing weapons and explosives and arresting eight people, the U.S. military said.
Meanwhile, insurgents hit a Canadian base in southern Afghanistan with mortars, wounding six soldiers, a Canadian military spokesman said.
The compounds targeted in the pre-dawn raids near the villages of Paru Kheyl and Jabeh in the Yaqubi district of Khost province were believed to be sanctuaries for "Al Qaeda facilitators," according to a military statement.
"Credible intelligence linked the targeted terrorists to assisting foreign fighters and plotting improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in Khost province," the statement said.
Weapons, explosives and communications equipment were found during the searches, it added.
Those captured were being questioned to determine their identities and "their level of involvement in known terrorist activities," the statement said.
In a similar operation in the same district Tuesday, U.S. and Afghan forces seized bomb-making materials and killed a suspected Al Qaeda operative and arrested 13 other suspects.
In that raid, most people inside the compound complied with the troops' request that they surrender, but a militant disguised as a woman resisted arrest and was shot dead, said Col. Tom Collins, the chief U.S. military spokesman.
More than 60 women and children were inside the compound at the time of the operation, he said.
The attack on the Canadians occurred in Zhari district in southern Kandahar province Tuesday, but none of the soldiers' injuries was life-threatening, said Capt. Edward Stewart, a Canadian military spokesman.
Seven Canadian troops have been killed in the area since NATO-led troops took control of security from the U.S.-led coalition on Aug. 1 in Afghanistan's insurgency-wracked southern provinces.
U.S. and NATO forces have stepped up operations along Afghanistan's eastern and southern borders with Pakistan, where wanted Al Qaeda fugitives are believed to be at large along with allies from the toppled Taliban regime and Islamic extremists belonging to Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Afghanistan is suffering its deadliest bout of violence since the hard-line Taliban regime was ousted in late 2001.