Nato frees 27 from Taliban prison
Pro-government forces in Afghanistan have raided a Taliban prison, freeing 27 hostages but killing five others, according to officials in the south of the country. Also on Wednesday, the government revealed that it has started to recruit thousands of villagers to anti-Taliban militias.
Afghan and international forces overnight swooped on the Taliban prison in Musa Qala district in Helmand province, where Taliban insurgency is at its height, officials say.
Twenty-seven prisoners, all of whom were Afghan, were freed but five died in the fighting, along with eight Taliban, according to Helmand spokesperson Daoud Ahmadi.
Five Afghans working for the US NGO International Relief and Development who had been kidnapped in June were among the prisoners. Three were freed and two killed, according to Ahmadi.
Nato confirmed that the operation took place but says that 13 people were killed, all of them Taliban. Nato also claims that the prisoners had been tortured.
In other news from Afghanistan:
- The government has begun recruiting villagers to a “local police force” which aims to repeat the Iraqi experience of creating an anti-insurgent militia – the operation has started in Wardak and Uruzgan provinces;
- About 600 people blocked a national highway on Wednesday in protest against the alleged killing of a father and son during a Nato raid – the international force says that no civilians were killed when its troops responded to fire from a compound;
- Electoral officials are to close 900 of the 6,835 polling stations set up for next month’s general election because of security concerns, according to the Guardian newspaper;
- President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday signed a decree disbanding private security forces within four months – the Afghan army and police are supposed to take over their functions.
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