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Key Afghan Taleban chief 'killed'

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The US-led forces in Afghanistan say they have killed a wanted Taleban commander in the country's west.

Mullah Dastagir was killed along with other militants in an air strike in Badghis province, the US army said.

Dastagir was responsible for a surge in violence in Badghis in recent months, including an attack which killed 13 Afghan soldiers in November, it said.

The commander was recently released from jail after elders pledged he would not return to violence, officials said.

'Top leaders'

Forces targeted a rebel compound overnight in a "precision strike" in the village of Darya-ye-Morghab in Badghis, a troubled region on the Turkmenistan border, the US military said in a statement.

Provincial police chief, Sayed Ahmad Sameh, confirmed the incident.

"Mullah Dastagir and Mullah Baz Mohammad, two big Taleban commanders and eight of their men were killed in the air strike by the coalition forces," news agency AFP quoted him as saying.

The pair were top Taleban leaders in the province, he said.

The Afghan defence ministry said there may have been as many as 12 deaths in the incident.

Baghdis Governor Ashraf Nasery said Dastagir had been captured but was freed in late 2008 after a petition by elders that he would not return to violence.

"The government trusted the guarantee of the villagers, Mr Nasery told Associated Press. "Unfortunately, as soon as he was released he rejoined the Taleban."

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