Air raids kill dozens of Taliban in Afghan south: U.S.

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 45 Islamist Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the U.S. military said.More than 7,000 people have been killed during the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the worst violence since the militants’ U.S.-led ouster in 2001.

In separate incidents, an Afghan security guard was killed in a roadside bomb attack in the eastern province of Paktia on Wednesday and a Bangladeshi national was shot dead in the north-eastern province of Badakshan by suspected insurgents, officials said.

Afghan and U.S.-led coalition troops called in close air support after their patrol was attacked by Taliban fighters in a village in the Deh Rawood district of Uruzgan province, the U.S. military said.

“Insurgents … attacked a combined Afghan National Army and coalition patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire,” it said in a statement. “Coalition aircraft destroyed the positively identified insurgent positions using precision guided munitions.”

A similar clash on Tuesday in the southern province of Zabul killed a dozen Taliban, the U.S. military said.

There were no independent accounts of how many people were killed or what happened. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.

The fighting came after a suicide bomber rammed a U.S. security firm convoy in the southern province of Helmand on Tuesday, killing two local staff and wounding eight other people.

The U.S.-led military says coalition forces have killed hundreds of Taliban militants in a series of confrontations in recent weeks. The Taliban have admitted some losses, but say Afghan and foreign troops vastly exaggerate enemy death tolls.

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