Dozens of Taliban killed in Afghanistan

KABUL (AFP) – Dozens of Taliban militants have been killed in heavy fighting in southern and western Afghanistan, officials said Thursday, as the Al-Qaeda-backed insurgency showed no signs of abating.n volatile southern Uruzgan province, at least 36 insurgents were killed Wednesday in a fierce clash with Afghan and US-led coalition forces backed by NATO air power, the coalition said in a statement.

“More than three dozen insurgents were killed in the 14-hour battle,” the statement said, adding that one Afghan soldier was wounded in the fight.

The Taliban fighters were readying a bomb to be used in an ambush, but a mixed Afghan-coalition patrol caught them in the act, prompting the battle, the statement said.

Taliban insurgents have waged a bloody insurgency since their ouster from power in late 2001 by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, which has claimed thousands of lives so far.

In western Afghanistan, which is relatively peaceful compared to the south and southeast, a Taliban attack on a police post sparked a battle that left at least 20 militants and four police dead, a provincial governor said.

Dozens of Islamic fighters attacked a police position in Badghis province on Wednesday, setting off a three-hour gunfight, governor Mohammad Ashraf Nasiri told AFP.

“Twenty militants were killed and nine militants were wounded in the fighting,” he said. Four police were also killed.

Despite the relative calm in the west, Bala Murghab district — the scene of the latest attack — has seen a spike in violence in the past months.

Seven Afghan soldiers and 20 militants were killed in a battle there last month that was sparked when Taliban militants ambushed an Afghan and NATO army convoy.

Elsewhere, one militant was killed and six others arrested Wednesday in an Afghan army operation in southern Zabul province, the defence ministry said Thursday.

And in Ghazni province, also in the south, a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up on Thursday, provincial police chief Alishah Ahmadzai said.

His target was an Afghan army truck, and a soldier was severely wounded.

Elsewhere Afghan soldiers carried out an operation in Wardak province in which three “enemies” were killed and nine wounded and arrested, police said.

Wardak, which adjoins Kabul province, is where Taliban-linked militants captured a German engineer two months ago. The operation did not appear to be related to the kidnapping.

Two NATO soldiers were killed in a road accident in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, but the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force said no enemy forces were involved in the incident.

The new death takes to 166 the number of international soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year, most of them in hostile action, according to an AFP count.

The Afghan government relies on nearly 50,000 international soldiers to fight the rebels.

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