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18 Taliban killed in western Afghanistan fighting

world Updated: May 31, 2009 19:27 IST

AP
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Afghan and NATO troops killed 18 Taliban militants on Sunday after insurgents attacked a joint patrol, while four police were killed in a separate militant ambush, officials said.

Militants attacked the troops in the western province of Farah, the site of a major battle with numerous civilian casualties in early May. Soon after the attack, the new US ambassador and President Hamid Karzai visited in an apparent effort to ease local anger.

Sunday's battle killed 18 militants in the district of Khaki Safed, said Juma Khan, a police official in Farah. Neither Afghan nor NATO troops suffered any casualties, he said.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said the battle began after the patrol was attacked with mortars.

Elsewhere in Farah, a militant attack on a police checkpoint on Saturday killed four police, said Abdul Nabi Popal, the province's deputy police chief.

Farah's Bala Baluk district was the site of a major battle between Taliban militants and US and Afghan forces on May 4-5. The Afghan government said 140 civilians died in the battle, which included about a dozen bombing runs by US aircraft. The US estimated that 60-65 Taliban and 20-30 civilians died.

The Afghan government often complains that civilian deaths undermine support for the campaign against militants.