Nato forces attack insurgents close to Afghanistan capital

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The Independent Online

In a clash unusually close to the Afghan capital, Nato forces attacked an insurgent compound in the Tagab Valley, some 40 miles north-east of Kabul, and a Nato official said fighting continued in the area yesterday.

The air strike on the compound, where eight to 10 insurgents were sheltering, is part of Operation Eagle, which a Nato spokesman, Major Luke Knittig, said was aimed at hunting down Taliban fighters. Most of the fighting has been concentrated in Afghanistan's south and east, close to the Pakistan border, but Major Knittig said the operation "is going to address known areas where the Taliban, we suspect, are seeking safe haven. If that's close to Kabul, then so be it."

Taliban fighters, meanwhile, attacked a convoy of supply vehicles going to a Nato base in the eastern province of Khost, killing two Pakistani drivers. The Afghan defence ministry said nine Taliban insurgents and one Afghan soldier were killed in other violence in the past few days.

A photographer kidnapped in Afghanistan last month returned home to Italy yesterday, one day after his captors freed him and left him on the side of a road. The Taliban denied holding him and said he had been seized by bandits. Italy said it had not paid a ransom.

Relatives and officials greeted Gabriele Torsello, 36, at Ciampino Airport in Rome. "I am well. Thank you, Italy," he said, after stepping off the plane, clad in Afghan dress. Hewas kidnapped on 12 October while travelling by bus from Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, to neighbouring Kandahar.