Afghan officials say US strikes targeted al-Qaida militants

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) " U.S. airstrikes this week in eastern Afghanistan killed several al-Qaida militants, including two Arabs and four Pakistanis, Afghan officials said Thursday, but added that authorities cannot definitively identify the slain militants because of the area's inaccessibility and remoteness.

The officials also gave conflicting information on the time and number of the alleged airstrikes, which they said were carried out with drones.

Kunar's governor, Wahidullah Kalemzai, said a 2 a.m. strike on Monday hit in the remote Haygal Valley, killing four militants, as well as the wife and child of one of them.

According to Kalemzai, al-Qaida has been present for years in Kunar, with authorities having little or no control over remote areas such as this particular valley.

Meanwhile, Kunar's provincial council chief, Jamaluddin Sayar, said there were two airstrikes on Sunday night that killed eight people, including the two Arab and four Pakistani militants.

Sayar said local intelligence reports indicate that the drones struck two houses where militants had gathered.

There was no immediate comment from Islamabad on the four alleged Pakistani militants killed in the strikes.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Department said airstrikes in Afghanistan targeted two al-Qaida leaders, including one described by a Pentagon official as the group's top leader in the northeastern part of the country.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook issued a written statement, saying U.S. officials are still working to determine whether the men targeted were killed. He identified the two as Faruq al-Qatani and Bilal al-Utabi and said they were targeted in strikes conducted on Sunday.

Cook also said al-Qatani was a senior planner for attacks against the U.S. and has had a hand in deadly attacks on American forces.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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