U.S.-led Strike Kills 5 Suspected Militants in Afghan Borderlands

A U.S.-led coalition strike on a militant training facility in Afghanistan's borderlands with Pakistan killed five suspected extremists, including senior Taliban leaders, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The military said that "key senior leaders of the Taliban network" were among the five dead in the late Friday strike on the site at the remote Qal'a Sak village, in Helmand province.

No identities or precise numbers of the Taliban leaders killed were released. The military said the Taliban commanders have carried out attacks against coalition and Afghan army forces as well as Afghan officials and civilians.


Lt. Tamara Lawrence, a U.S. military spokeswoman, declined to identify any of the militants killed.

Coalition forces said there were no civilian casualties in the strike and added that ground troops destroyed war materiel at the scene, including machine guns and explosives.

Eleven people were killed in fresh clashes Friday between police and Taliban militants, while a human rights group estimated that 34 civilians died earlier this week in a U.S. airstrike on a southern village — double the official toll.

Abdul Qadar Noorzai, the director of the Kandahar office of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said Afghans who had fled their small village of Azizi told him that 34 civilians were killed during the strike by U.S. warplanes.

The governor of Kandahar and President Hamid Karzai said that 16 people had died.

The villagers also reported burying about 35 "unknown people" — meaning militants from outside their area, he said.

As many as 365 people, mostly militants, have died in an upsurge of violence since May 17, according to Afghan and coalition figures. Because of the difficulty of accessing the scenes of combat, those figures could not be confirmed independently.