31 Al Qaeda militants killed in Afghan air strike

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Kabul, March 13 (IANS) As many as 31 Al Qaeda militants were killed in pre-dawn air attacks by Afghan and foreign troops in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province on Wednesday, the Defence Ministry said.

The air strikes were launched at a base of the militant group in the Giro district of Ghazni, Efe news reported citing a Defence Ministry statement.

“Thirty-one terrorists, including nine suicide bombers and their facilitator Qari Arif,” were eliminated in the operation, it said.

Ministry spokesperson Qais Mangal said slain militants were “members of Al Qaeda’s Indian-subcontinent” branch and were bombed when they were preparing to move to another location in vehicles.

Mangal said the Afghan and foreign forces conducted the operation between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Ghazni, one of the most volatile provinces of Afghanistan, serves as a passageway for insurgents travelling between southwestern, southeastern and southern provinces.

Amid ongoing peace talks between the US and the Taliban, Afghanistan has been experiencing unabated resurgence in violence since NATO ended its combat mission in the war-ravaged country in January 2015.

After nearly 17 years of the armed conflict, the Afghan government controls around 55 per cent of the territory, while the Taliban control around 11 per cent, with the rest being disputed, according to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

The US and the Taliban have held many rounds of talks in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to end the Afghan conflict amid opposition by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which insists on having a central role in the talks.

The Taliban have, however, refused to hold talks with the Afghan government, insisting that they will only negotiate with the US.



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