Coalition airstrike kills 20 Taliban militants in Afghanistan

April 2nd, 2009 - 8:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, April 2 (DPA) Twenty suspected Taliban militants were killed in an airstrike carried out by the US-led coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, officials said in a statement Thursday.
The airstrike was prompted after Taliban militants attacked Afghan and international troops in southern Afghanistan.

The latest death toll raised the total number of militants killed in the past three days in Afghanistan’s southern region to 80.

Dozens of Taliban militants attacked combined Afghan and coalition forces in Kajaki district of southern Helmand province Wednesday, sparking a fierce gunfight, the US military said in a statement.

The joint forces returned fire and forced the militants to withdraw to their secondary fighting position, the statement said, adding, “Once the combined elements ensured there were no non-combatants in the area, a precision strike was called to neutralise the enemy”.

“Twenty militants were killed in the engagement,” the statement said, stressing that no Afghan, coalition troops or civilians were killed in the battle.

Southern Helmand, which is the largest opium-producing province in the country, is also the main hub for the Taliban and their Al Qaeda associates.

The Afghan police - backed by NATO troops - killed 30 Taliban, including one of their commanders, in the same Kajaki district Tuesday. A day earlier, another 30 militants were killed in a separate operation in the neighbouring province of Uruzgan.

Fighting is expected to increase as the weather in the southern and eastern regions, the main areas for Taliban-led insurgents’ activities, turns warmer. Traditionally, in Afghanistan, violence increases in the spring and summer, following a lull in winter months.

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