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U.S. Targets Haqqani Network In Afghan East

Jalaluddin Haqqani in 2001
KABUL (Reuters) -- The U.S. military has said it had targeted the network of veteran Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani during an operation in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, and detained two suspected militants.

The raid was launched on September 8 in Khost Province against militants suspected of carrying out roadside-bomb attacks, the U.S. military said in a statement.

It did not refer to another operation on September 8 in which Pakistani witnesses and intelligence officials said U.S. drones fired missiles at a house and religious school founded by Haqqani, just across the border in Pakistan, killing 23 people.

Several of the dead were relatives of Haqqani, who is considered close to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The ailing Taliban commander was in Afghanistan along with his son Sirajuddin, who has been leading the group, at the time of the attack, another son said.

The U.S. military said soldiers found multiple AK-47s, grenades, and other military equipment during the raid in Khost.

Violence has surged in Afghanistan this year as the hard-line Islamist Taliban have stepped up their campaign of guerrilla attacks backed by suicide and roadside bombs to oust the pro-Western Afghan government and drive out foreign troops.

Two rockets hit a residential part of central Kabul late on September 8 but there were no casualties, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

About 2,500 people, including 1,000 civilians, have been killed in fighting in the first six months this year, aid agencies say.