* Afghan Interior Ministry claims a group was killed smuggling weapons from Pakistan.
KABUL/KHOST: Nearly 80 Taliban rebels were killed in a series of air raids by international military forces near Afghanistanâ€™s eastern border with Pakistan, a provincial government spokesman said on Sunday.
Around 65 were killed in a single airstrike on a â€œlarge group of Talibanâ€ late on Saturday in eastern Paktia provinceâ€™s Patan district, according to Din Muhammad Darvish, a spokesman for the local administration.
Smugglers: However, the Afghan Interior Ministry claimed that the group was smuggling weapons across the border from Pakistan on horses and in two saloon cars. The ministry said that Afghan and foreign forces engaged them and called in air support.
Darvish said that four others were killed in a second assault targeting a vehicle carrying rebels in the same area and four others in a nearby area, Zurmat. Darvish said another three were killed in an airstrike near Gardez, capital of the restive province.
â€œAltogether 76 Taliban were killed in separate airstrikes by coalition forces,â€ Darvish told AFP. The coalition forces could only immediately confirm the last incident which they said was targeted at three militants spotted planting a bomb. Three more Italians and nine Afghans, five of them children, were wounded in the attack, according to Italian and Afghan officials. Separately, two policemen were killed on Sunday in a roadside bomb blast in Spin Boldak, Kandahar district police chief Abdul Raziq said. afp/reuters