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Australian military says senior Taliban commander killed

by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Jan 11, 2009
Australian Special Forces have killed a senior Taliban insurgent in southern Afghanistan, the military said Sunday.

The Australian Defence Force said Mullah Abdul Rasheed was involved in bringing foreign fighters, improvised explosive device (IED) experts and potential suicide bombers into the restive area.

"Rasheed was a senior commander in the Baluchi Valley and was believed to be responsible for Taliban operations in the area resulting in the deaths of Coalition Force members and Afghan civilians in recent months," it said in a statement.

"He had been identified as a primary IED facilitator, responsible for coordinating IED emplacement in Uruzgan province."

The Australian military said its special forces troops ordered the attack following the receipt of all necessary approvals from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operating in Afghanistan.

In a statement, the ISAF said that Rasheed was killed on January 7.

On a visit to Australia's 1,000 troops in Afghanistan Saturday, defence force head Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said special forces had killed a long-hunted Taliban leader but did not name the commander.

"They went into an area (where) this guy was the leader. They got him," he told Australian Associated Press.

Rasheed is believed to be the organiser of the rocket attack that struck a remote patrol base in the Baluchi Valley just over a week ago, killing Australian Private Gregory Sher.

The soldier, whose funeral was held in Melbourne on Sunday, was the eighth Australian serviceman to die in Afghanistan.

British soldier killed in Afghanistan explosion
A British soldier was killed Sunday in an explosion while on a routine patrol in Afghanistan, the defence ministry here said.

The Royal Marine was killed in the Kajaki area of the troubled southern Helmand Province.

"He was taking part in a routine reassurance patrol when the explosion occurred. He received immediate medical attention at the scene but sadly died of his wounds," the ministry said in a statement.

Britain has around 8,300 troops in Afghanistan, largely battling Taliban insurgents in Helmand.

The death brings to 139 the total number of British service personnel killed in Afghanistan since 2001, when US-led forces ousted the Taliban in the wake of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Of these, at least 111 were killed as a result of hostile action.

The man is the 13th Royal Marine to die in the past two months.

"The death of this Royal Marine is a tragedy for everyone in Task Force Helmand," said Commander Paula Rowe, a spokeswoman for the unit.

"Whilst words cannot ease their loss, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this desperately sad time."

He is the second British serviceman killed in Afghanistan this month after Sergeant Chris Reed of 6th Battalion The Rifles was killed in action in the Garmsir district of Helmand Province on New Year's Day.

A total of 51 died in the Afghanistan operation in 2008.

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Turkish editor risks jail for reports on rebel attack
Istanbul (AFP) Jan 6, 2009
A newspaper editor faces up to five years in jail for publishing reports that accused the Turkish army of ignoring intelligence on a deadly Kurdish rebel raid, the daily's chief editor said Tuesday.

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