ZABUL -- Afghan special forces destroyed Taliban bomb-making facilities in Nawa District, Ghazni Province, that locals described as where the "world's big terrorists come and make land mines".
Security forces destroyed those facilities and raided a clinic used to treat injured militants on August 31 in operations that also left 12 militants dead.
"Afghan forces targeted a clinic near the bazaar of Nawa District that the Taliban were using to treat their injured members, resulting in the killing of 12 Taliban fighters and the destruction of a large number of their transport vehicles and equipment," said Mohammad Arif Noori, a spokesman for the Ghazni governor.
"Important Taliban members are among those killed on the spot," Noori said.
Four of the slain Taliban members were killed after bombs fabricated by the insurgents in shops near the Nawa bazaar exploded, Noori said, adding a number of shops caught fire and were destroyed in the blast.
"Afghan security forces will very soon fully capture Nawa District, which has been under the control of Taliban terrorists for the last few years," said Noori.
Afghan forces returned to their bases in Kandahar Province by helicopter after conducting the operations in Nawa District, said Kandahar Governor Hayatullah Hayat, adding that they seized a number of Taliban computers and mobile phones.
In a statement released a day after the raids, the Taliban confirmed the operations but claimed that they resulted only in the killing of civilians.
However, Afghan forces and civilians were not harmed during the operations in Nawa District, Col. Mohammad Khalid Wardak, the police chief of Ghazni Province, said in an interview.
Residents of Nawa District also rejected the Taliban claim, saying that the militants had been taking over shops in the area to make roadside bombs that the military operations destroyed.
"The Taliban have made Nawa District a large centre where the world's big terrorists come and make land mines," said a tribal elder in Nawa District who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "They have occupied shops through force. If we say anything, they will kill us.
"Whatever cruelty we are faced with is committed by these Taliban members. For God's sake, we are asking the government to come and free us from these oppressors," the tribal elder said.
"There are big centres of Taliban land mine factories in and around our Nawa bazaar," said a resident of Nawa who requested anonymity. "This is not the first time the government has conducted raids here, and it should do it because the world's terrorists live with the Taliban in the Nawa bazaar."
"Each time fighting takes place here, land mine explosions occur in the factories here, destroying our whole bazaar," he said.