December 11, 2007 in Nation/World

Troops drive fighters from Afghan town

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

KABUL, Afghanistan – Hundreds of Taliban fighters fled in trucks and on motorbikes Monday as Afghan and international troops fought their way into the only important town controlled by the hard-line Islamic movement.

Afghan officers reported some militants, possibly al-Qaida, were still resisting in the center of Musa Qala, and said the attacking force controlled the southern town but was moving slowly toward the center because streets were boobytrapped with improvised bombs.

A Taliban spokesman confirmed the insurgents retreated from Musa Qala, which the militants had held since February, and Afghanistan’s president said the successful attack was aided by some local Taliban leaders switching allegiance to his government.

Musa Qala has bounced back and forth between government and Taliban control despite the presence of British troops nearby, and it remains to be seen whether overstretched Afghan and NATO troops can hold the town.

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