Nearly two dozen militants said killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) – Ground fighting and air strikes killed almost two dozen insurgents near a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan that has seen days of heavy fighting, the US-led counter terrorism force said Saturday.Attack aircraft were called in after insurgents ambushed patrolling Afghan police and international troops in the southern province of Helmand on Friday, it said in a statement.

“In the fight that ensued, almost two dozen insurgents were killed,” it said.

Insurgents attacked the combined patrol with guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades from several compounds inside populated areas of the Musa Qala district, the statement said.

However there were no reports of civilian casualties.

The main town in Musa Qala has been in Taliban control for months and is said to be one of the rebels’ main strongholds in Afghanistan.

The past week has seen intense fighting around the Regay area which is just south of the town. Security forces have said several rebels have been killed, including one of the Taliban’s most senior commanders, Mullah Brader.

The Taliban follow an extremist Islamist ideology which they imposed on Afghanistan during their 1996-2001 hold of government, when they also allowed Al-Qaeda to set up training camps here.

They were removed from government in a US-led invasion weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks and are fighting the new administration, which is dependent on several mainly Western allies for troops and financial aid.

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