- Associated Press - Friday, September 10, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan insurgent commander who was purportedly planning bombings in Kabul on the eve of the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections and two of his associates have been killed in an air strike, NATO said Friday.

The military alliance said in a statement that intelligence sources tracked Nur Mohammed and two armed militants to a field in the remote Musahi district of Kabul province. Coalition aircraft conducted the air strike Thursday night after ensuring no civilians were present, it added.

The statement said the senior insurgent commander was planning attacks in the capital before the Sept. 18 parliamentary elections. The Taliban has vowed to attack polling stations and warned Afghans not to participate in what it called a sham vote.

The insurgents want to topple the pro-Western government in Kabul and drive foreign troops from the country, and have boycotted or sought to sabotage all aspects of the political process, including elections.

“This was a very successful strike which stopped a very dangerous individual from conducting further attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces,” U.S. Air Force Col. James Dawkins said in the statement.

“The Afghan people deserve to cast their votes without fear of attacks from the insurgent groups,” he said. “We are continuously tracking them and taking action before they’re able to carry out their plans.”

The Afghan government and its Western allies hope the elections for the lower house of parliament will help consolidate the country’s fragile democracy and political stability, eventually allowing for the withdrawal of the roughly 140,000 NATO-led troops in the country.

But many Afghans and international observers fear the vote could turn bloody if the Taliban carry out its threats.

NATO said a follow-up security force found automatic weapons, grenades and material to make improvised explosive devices near the site of the air strike.

 


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