15 Suspected Militants Killed in Southern Afghanistan

Afghan and NATO troops killed 15 suspected militants during clashes in southern Afghanistan, where authorities also arrested a senior Taliban commander, officials said Sunday.

The joint forces fought with militants in the Zhari district of Kandahar province as part of a weeklong operation in the area, a Defense Ministry statement said.

Fifteen militants were killed during the fighting Saturday, and authorities recovered a number of weapons and ammunitions, the statement said.

Meanwhile, police nabbed a militant leader named Abdul Jabar, described as the deputy of another arrested militant leader, Mansoor Dadullah, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Jabar was detained Saturday in Kandahar, Afghanistan's most important southern city and the Taliban's former stronghold, while on his way to Pakistan, the ministry said.

Mansoor Dadullah, the brother of slain Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah, was detained in February by authorities in Pakistan.

Mansoor Dadullah was dismissed as the movement's top commander in southern Afghanistan by the militia's leader, Mullah Omar, shortly before his arrest.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, establishing a harsh regime based on strict interpretation of Islamic law and giving safe haven to al-Qaida's terrorist leadership until the U.S.-led invasion ousted the group from power.