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Around 30 reported killed in Afghan clashes: Governor

Heavy fighting between Taliban and security forces in Afghanistan is believed to have left about 30 militants and several civilians dead, some killed in air strikes, a governor said.

world Updated: May 05, 2009 13:49 IST

Heavy fighting between Taliban and security forces in Afghanistan is believed to have left about 30 militants and several civilians dead, some killed in air strikes, a governor said on Tuesday.

Clashes erupted in the western province of Farah early on Monday and continued into the night, with international forces called in to carry out air strikes, provincial governor Rohul Amin told AFP.

The strikes killed civilians as well as rebels who had taken shelter in people's homes, he said, but the toll was unclear as the villages in question are outside government control.

Amin said the insurgents also publicly shot dead three civilians when they entered the area, accusing them of "working and spying for the government."

Afghan forces supported by troops from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) pushed out the guerrillas in several hours of fighting on Monday, he said.

"Around 30 Taliban were killed, based on the information we got," he said, although this figure could not be confirmed.

Taliban attacked the villages again at about midnight Monday and the Afghan forces asked the ISAF for air assistance, Amin said.

"ISAF forces bombed Taliban positions in the village. Taliban were using civilian houses as shelter and trenches and they were firing from within the civilian houses," he said.

"Based on the information we have received, unfortunately in the air strikes some civilian houses were also bombed, causing some civilian casualties," he said, adding that a "big number" of Taliban fighters was also believed killed.

However the Taliban were still in the villages, and authorities had no communication with their people there and so were unable to confirm the number of dead, Amin said.

ISAF's media headquarters confirmed there had been "an incident" in Farah province but could not immediately say what had happened.

The Taliban were in government in Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 before being ousted in a US-led invasion.

They are fighting to take back power from the government of President Hamid Karzai with a campaign of bombings and suicide attacks.

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