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NATO forces kill 94 Taliban rebels

The killings were part of a NATO-led action called Operation Medusa, which began on September 2 and has killed at least 420 insurgents.

india Updated: Sep 10, 2006 17:58 IST

NATO and Afghan forces killed 94 Taliban fighters in airstrikes and ground attacks in southern Afghanistan, the military alliance said on Sunday.

The 94 militants were killed in Kandahar province's Panjwayi and neighbouring Zhari districts late Saturday and early Sunday, and were separate to more than 40 Taliban who died in fighting in the same areas earlier Saturday, NATO spokesman Maj Scott Lundy said.

The killings were part of a NATO-led Operation called Operation Medusa, which began on September 2 and has killed at least 420 insurgents, according to the alliance. Purported Taliban spokesmen have disputed the high death counts.

NATO said in a statement the insurgent casualties were inflicted by warplanes in four separate engagements.

Panjwayi has long been regarded as a haven for the Taliban, which has been fanning Afghanistan's deadliest spate of violence since the US-led invasion that toppled the hard-line regime after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Meanwhile, more than 100 Taliban fighters raided a government compound in western Farah province early on Sunday, killing two policemen, said provincial police chief Sayed Agha.

Taliban fighters -- riding in pickup trucks and firing rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles -- attacked the compound in Kalaigar town at about 1 am local time.

They also torched several buildings, including a health clinic, before fleeing the town.

Agha said the Taliban raid was the first in Kalaigar. Resurgent Taliban fighters have been most active in the southern provinces.

But attacks have started occurring in the west amid intense NATO military operations in provinces like Kandahar and Helmand.

Separately, Taliban militants killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded eight in an ambush in southern Zabul province's Shahjoy district Saturday, said Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.

Afghan authorities also found the body of a district education chief Saturday who was kidnapped by suspected militants in central Afghanistan's Ghazni province, said Abdul Ali Faquri, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The corpse of Mohammed Halim, education director for Qarabagh district, was found in a field in the Goshak area after suspected Taliban militants abducted him last week.

Halim's killing is the latest in a series of attacks targeting state officials to undermine the authority of President Hamid Karzai's US-backed government.