Afghan, coalition forces kill 22 insurgents in Afghanistan (Lead)

April 12th, 2009 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, April 12 (DPA) The police chief of Afghanistan’s restive southern Zabul province claimed Sunday that Afghan forces backed by US-led coalition air support killed 22 suspected insurgents in the country’s volatile southern region.
The militants ambushed a convoy of Afghan soldiers and international troops in the province’s Shinkay district Saturday night, sparking a fierce battle that lasted for four hours, Abdul Rahman Sarjang, the provincial police chief said.

Shortly after the battle erupted, Afghan police forces and coalition aircraft joined the battle and killed 22 insurgents, Sarjang said.

“The bodies of the militants are still on the battlefield and four of them have been identified to be Pakistani nationals,” he said, adding there were casualties on the joint forces side.

The US military in a statement also said US troops killed four insurgents in Shinkay Saturday but it was not clear if both Sarjang and the military statement were referring to the same incident.

Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi said that only three of their fighters were killed in the gunbattle, but claimed that Taliban fighters killed 48 Afghan and international soldiers.

Due to the remoteness of the area, it was difficult to verify the conflicting reports independently.

In south-eastern province of Khost, Afghan commando forces discovered and disabled a vehicle packed with explosives, which was meant to be used for a car bombing, the US military statement said.

The vehicle was left by the side of a road in Sabari district of the province, it said.

Police forces in Garmsir district of southern Helmand province identified and killed a would-be suicide bomber, who was approaching a police station Saturday, interior ministry said in statement.

The blast, which was triggered by the explosives-filled vest killed the bomber, but caused no other casualties, it said.

More than seven years since the fall of Taliban regime in US military invasion, Taliban militants are still a force to be reckoned with.

The insurgents have gained more strength in the past three years, forcing the US government to plan the deployment of 21,000 additional combat troops and military trainers to contain the insurgency this year.

New forces will bring to 90,000 the number of international troops deployed to Afghanistan from 42 nations.

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