U.S., Afghans kill 8 Taliban, catch 16
U.S. and Afghan forces killed eight suspected Taliban guerrillas and captured 16 to thwart an ambush in the southern province of Zabul, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
The fighting occurred in Zabul's Dai Chopan district on Monday after the guerrillas tried to ambush a convoy of troops, Zahir Azimy said.
"After the ambush, fierce fighting broke out and we called in coalition air support. Eight Taliban were killed and 16 were captured," he said.
Guerrilla activity in Afghanistan has picked up after a winter lull but activity is down on past years, fueling speculation the Taliban may be struggling to find recruits and resources.
Azimy said four of those caught were wounded, while U.S. and Afghan forces suffered no casualties.
A U.S. helicopter landed at the site of the battle due to a "technical reason," but took off later, he added.
The U.S. military had no immediate comment. Independent confirmation of the details of the fighting in the remote area was not immediately available.
Zabul is one of the provinces where the Taliban have been most active since their overthrow by U.S.-led forces in late 2001.
Nine Afghan troops were wounded at the weekend by a mine planted by the guerrillas in another area of the province.
Last week, Afghan and U.S. forces said they killed 12 insurgents in the southeastern province of Paktia.
The Taliban said only one of their fighters was killed, while the guerrillas killed five government soldiers.
U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban after they refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the architect of Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. cities. Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar remain at large.