AP is reporting from Kandahar that Mullah Dadullah and 200 Taliban fighters are cornered in Urzugan province, Afghanistan. Apparently they haven’t yet realized that they are heavily infiltrated, and set up a meeting to which the Afghan Army invited themselves. Just from the time of year, my wager is that the leader’s were meeting to divvy up the take from this year’s poppy harvest, which is about done now.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Afghan forces have trapped up to 200 Taliban fighters in a southern village, possibly including the militia’s military commander, demanding they surrender or come under attack, Afghan officials said Monday.
Afghan police and government officials said the suspected Taliban fighters were surrounded as they gathered for a meeting in the mountain village of Keshay in Uruzgan province on Saturday.
Provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Qasim Khan said NATO troops were also involved in the siege, but NATO spokeswoman Lt. Col. Angela Billings said she had no such information.
Khan told The Associated Press that Mullah Dadullah, a close aide to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar, and other regional Taliban commanders were at the meeting when the village was surrounded. The security forces were still positioned around the village on Monday, he said.
“We are trying to get him to surrender and to arrest these Taliban without fighting,” he said.
Abdul Hadi Khalid, the deputy interior minister for security, told a security commission in parliament on Monday that it was “possible that Mullah Dadullah is among” those who were attending the meeting. He said Afghan officials had demanded that the Taliban surrender or face military action. He did not mention any deadline for negotiations.
A Taliban spokesman in the south could not immediately be reached for comment. Khan said the Taliban fighters had gone into hiding in villagers’ homes.
After a winter lull in violence, Afghan, NATO and U.S.-led forces have stepped up operations in recent weeks, hoping to pre-empt a feared spring offensive by militants that threatened the already shaky grip of President Hamid Karzai’s government.
To the Afghans: I hope Dadullah is there, and good hunting!
hat tip to Bill Roggios’ sidebar and Ornery Elephant.