U.S.: 45 Taliban killed in Afghan clash

KABUL, Afghanistan – Airstrikes and Afghan army gunfire killed more than 45 suspected Taliban fighters in a clash in a southern province just as the holy month of Ramadan began, the U.S.-led coalition said.The battle in the southern province of Uruzgan on Wednesday began when insurgents attacked a joint Afghan army and U.S.-led coalition patrol with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire, the coalition said in a statement late Wednesday.

Afghan soldiers “cleared” Taliban fighters from firing positions within the village of Aduzay, while attack aircraft destroyed some fighting positions, it said.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force on Wednesday said insurgents increased attacks during Ramadan last year and that they could do the same this year.

“On the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the enemies of Afghanistan have shown they will shun peaceful coexistence in favor of attacking government forces,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman. “Fortunately for the citizens of Afghanistan, the ANA (Afghan National Army) is improving their tactics.”

The coalition said no Afghan or coalition soldiers or civilians were wounded or killed.

Fighting has increased dramatically in the last several weeks in Afghanistan, with more than 300 suspected Taliban fighters killed since late August, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

More than 4,300 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency related violence this year, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Western and Afghan officials.

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