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Taliban kidnapper killed - police

  • Story Highlights
  • Coalition forces and Afghan soldiers kill Taliban commander Qari Mateen
  • Mateen among 16 militants killed in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni Province
  • He had helped mastermind the kidnapping of South Korean aid workers in July
  • Operation targeted Taliban militants suspected of hiding in Qarabagh district
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(CNN) -- A Taliban commander who masterminded the July kidnapping of South Korean aid workers was among 16 militants killed by U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan soldiers, according to a police official.

The operation targeted Taliban militants suspected of hiding out in the Qarabagh district.

The coalition press center said the military operation was targeting Taliban militants suspected of hiding out in an area in Qarabagh district, in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni Province.

"During the course of operations the forces were engaged by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades," the coalition said.

"The forces returned fire -- using precision munitions as necessary -- resulting in the death of several militants who were armed and wearing ammunition vests."

Ghazni Police Chief Alishah Ahmadzai said police had intelligence information that the militants were about to attack a police post, but they surrounded the militants first.

"Qari Mateen, a Taliban commander, who along with Abdullah Jan masterminded the kidnapping of South Koreans, was among the dead militants," Ahmadzai said.

He said two Pakistani nationals from the Punjab province and one Arab were among the dead.

The coalition said there were "no indications of injuries or deaths to non-combatants," although some damage was done to buildings and fields.

Meanwhile, a coalition helicopter made a precautionary landing in eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province "based on the crew's judgment for safe air operations" on Tuesday, the U.S.-led coalition command said.

There was no indication the CH-47 Chinook was fired upon by "enemy forces" or that "enemy activity" was going on in the area when the chopper landed southeast of Khogyani, the coalition said.

No one onboard the aircraft was injured, but more information will be released after "crew and passengers have been recovered and the site secured," the command said.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Separately, a joint coalition-Afghan combat patrol on Monday killed more than a dozen Taliban militants following an attempted attack by more than 40 militants in Kandahar Province.

  • A NATO soldier was found dead in his barracks room on Tuesday, a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said. The soldier's nationality was not immediately released and the cause of death is currently under investigation, the statement said.
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