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45 insurgents said killed in Afghanistan

45 insurgents said killed in Afghanistan

world Updated: Sep 13, 2007 10:52 IST

War planes were called in to help out ground soldiers under attack in Afghanistan in a battle that killed around 45 insurgents, the US-led coalition said late on Wednesday.

The fighting erupted in the central province of Uruzgan when insurgents attacked an Afghan and coalition patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, it said in a statement.

The soldiers returned fire and called in air support after confirming that the attackers were "drawing large amounts of reinforcements."

"More than 45 insurgents were killed in the engagement," the statement said.

Dutch soldiers make up the bulk of NATO forces in Uruzgan, which sees some of the worst fighting in the Taliban's insurgency that was launched after the hardliners were removed from government in 2001.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operates alongside the coalition.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende visited the main Dutch base in Uruzgan on Tuesday to meet some of the soldiers, later urging the international community to remain active in the war-torn country.

The latest attack came on the eve of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. The Taliban has said it would use the month to launch a new "operation" involving suicide bombings and other attacks.

ISAF, which has 37,000 troops in Afghanistan from 37 nations, said attacks may increase during Ramadan as they had last year.

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