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Suspected Taleban Members Captured After Afghanistan Clash - 2004-08-28

U.S. and Afghan soldiers have captured 22 suspected members of the ousted Taleban government.

The suspected Taleban militants were detained reportedly after a clash in the southern Afghan province of Zabul.

Local officials say US-led coalition and Afghan soldiers are conducting a major operation in the region to improve security for civilians.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul Saturday, U.S. military spokesman Major Scott Nelson confirmed the operation in Zabul, but could not provide details.

"I will have more, hopefully, a lot more, detail for you very soon," said Major Nelson. "We did have a major operation there, and I can confirm that 22 former Taleban were detained."

Major Nelson, however, gave more details about a separate operation in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, where coalition forces have come under frequent attack from suspected Taleban rebels.

"The operations in Khost, specifically, were designed to try to clear rocket-launch areas," he said. "They were firing into villages and into our fire-bases."

In another development Saturday, Afghan government officials have confirmed that a renegade militia commander, Amanullah Khan, has been brought to Kabul from western Herat province.

Mr. Amanullah's troops clashed with forces loyal to provincial Governor Ismail Khan, increasing security concerns in the region ahead of the presidential elections in October.

A U.S.-brokered cease-fire halted Mr. Amanullah's forces' advance on the provincial capital 10 days ago.

Jawed Ludin, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karazi, declined to say whether the renegade commander is under some form of arrest. He is quoted as saying Mr. Amanullah agreed with the government to be brought to Kabul.

A low-level Taleban insurgency and traditional rivalries among regional Afghan warlords have been a major concern ahead of the presidential elections.