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Over 40 rebels dead in Afghan clashes

The clashes come amid stepped up US-led military efforts to crush armed rebels behind a bloody insurgency raging across Afghanistan.

india Updated: Jul 15, 2006 18:12 IST

Coalition and Afghan forces killed more than 40 militants in clashes across southern Afghan on Saturday, according to the US military.

The clashes come amid stepped up US-led military efforts to crush armed extremists, primarily the Taliban, behind a bloody insurgency raging across Afghanistan, particularly in the south.

Skirmishes between coalition and Taliban militants raged throughout the southern Uruzgan province on Friday and Saturday, with battle field estimates indicating that 31 insurgents were killed in and around the Chora district, said Lt Col Paul Fitzpatrick.

Afghan and coalition soldiers also killed two male "foreigners" wearing burkas and detained five Taliban in Uruzgan's Dihrawud district on Friday, an Afghan Defense Ministry statement said.

The nationalities of the foreigners were unclear.

Soldiers at the scene later found an explosives-rigged vest, 16 roadside bombs and other explosive material, the statement said.

Elsewhere in Uruzgan, Afghan and coalition soldiers repelled an attack by 20 insurgents, killing one, the US military said in a statement.

Coalition and Afghan soldiers also raided several militant positions in neighboring Helmand province's volatile Sangin district, killing 10 insurgents in a "brief battle," the military said in a statement.

"This operation seeks to remove the Taliban from the security equation in Sangin," said Brig Gen David Fraser, commander of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan.

More than 3,000 British forces are deploying in Helmand province, hundreds of which are operating in the Sangin area, where resistance from Taliban holdouts has been intense.

Militants also attacked an Afghan army convoy patrolling late Friday in southern Zabul province's Shinkay district, sparking a gunbattle that killed four Taliban, said local army commander Razzaq Khan.

Soldiers detained one Taliban and there were no army casualties.

Outside Zabul's provincial capital early Saturday, a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade attack on a convoy delivering supplies to US-led coalition forces killed one bystander and wounded a truck driver, said police chief Noor Mohammed.

Police responded to the attack and fought militants, wounding two who were taken away by other Taliban and capturing one, he said. Eight "enemies of Afghanistan," a term used to describe the Taliban, were also killed by Afghan soldiers Thursday in southern Helmand province's Sangin district, the Defense Ministry statement said.

Various weapons, including a rocket launcher, and about 14 kilograms of hashish and opium were confiscated, the statement said.

Troops arrested five militants with nine kilograms of opium and hashish and two rocket launchers in northern Afghanistan's Balkh province.

Another five insurgents were detained in Paktika to the southeast and one in the western region of Herat, the statement added.

Afghanistan is gripped by the deadliest spate of violence since the Taliban's late 2001 ouster in a US-led invasion for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. More than 700 people, mainly militants, have been killed since mid-May.