Two dozen Taliban militants killed in Afghanistan

March 29th, 2009 - 12:20 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Kabul, March 28 (DPA) Two dozen Taliban militants were killed in three separate clashes with Afghan and US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan’s volatile south, officials said Saturday.
The US-led coalition forces said their troops, backed by Afghan forces, killed 12 militants in a night-time raid in Nahr Surkh district of southern Helmand province, some 125 km west of Kandahar city, the US military said in a statement.

The militants inside the compounds opened fire on the joined forces as they approached the compound, according to the statement.

Additionally, the statement reported, the US-led forces killed the militants while protecting nine women and 20 children, who were also in the compound.

The statement said that only one child was wounded during the firefight and was treated by the coalition medic at the scene.

But, Qari Mohammad Yousif Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, said that 11 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the attack. He said there were no casualties among the militants.

He said Taliban militants were not even in the area when the Afghan and US military forces carried out the assault.

Afghan local officials were not aware of the operation. Due to the remoteness of the area, it was difficult to verify the conflicting reports independently.

More than 2,100 civilians were killed in the Afghanistan conflict last year, according to a report by the United Nations.

Separately, Afghan national army and coalition forces killed five Taliban fighters and destroyed three improvised explosive devices in Shahidi Hassas district of southern Uruzgan province Friday, a separate US military statement said.

The combined forces were conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol in the area when they came under fire from the militants, the statement said. The forces returned fire, killing the militants, and then called for air support.

In the neighbouring province of Kandahar, Taliban militants ambushed a convoy of Afghan police forces in Khakrez district Friday, sparking a fierce battle with police personnel, the Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement.

“The clash left seven enemy forces dead and 24 others wounded,” the statement reported, adding there were no casualties among the Afghan police forces.

Taliban militants, who were driven out of power some seven years ago by the US-led international military invasion, are expected to step up their attacks as the weather in southern region warms in the coming months.

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