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US troops kill 10 militants in Afghanistan

world Updated: Nov 26, 2008 12:10 IST

US-led coalition forces killed 10 militants in two separate operations aimed at wanted Taliban commanders in southeastern Afghanistan, the US military said today.

Violence has sharply escalated in Afghanistan this year, the bloodiest period since the Taliban's removal in 2001, and has raised doubts about the prospects of security in the country despite the increasing number of foreign troops.

One of Tuesday's raids targeted a senior Taliban commander in Paktia's Zormat district believed to act as a liaison between the al Qaeda and Taliban networks and who had assisted with the movement of foreign fighters into Afghanistan, the US military said.

Five armed militants were killed during the operation, it said in a statement, but did not name the commander and did not say whether he was among the casualties.

In neighbouring Paktika province, coalition forces killed five armed militants and detained four more in another operation that targeted a pro-Taliban sub-commander, it said.

Coalition forces had received small arms fire in both engagements, it said, but did not say whether they or civilians had suffered any casualties.

The Taliban could not be reached for comment immediately and Reuters had no independent verification of the US military's accounts.

More than 4,000 people, over a quarter of them civilians, have been killed in Afghanistan this year alone.

Separately, the Taliban kidnapped three engineers of a foreign funded construction company in the northwestern province of Badghis overnight, a provincial official said.