Over 30 Taliban killed in operation: Afghan ministry

KABUL – The Afghan army has killed more than 30 Taliban fighters in an operation backed by air support in the violent south of the country, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

The clash happened on Wednesday in Helmand province, a bastion for Taliban guerrillas fighting the Afghan government and its Western backers and Afghanistan’s main drug-producing region.

Ousted from power in 2001, the Taliban have made a comeback in the past two years and are active mainly in southern and eastern areas close to the border with Pakistan.

More than 11,000 people have been killed during this period, the bloodiest since U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban after its refusal to hand over al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, the architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The ministry said there were no casualties among Afghan soldiers during Wednesday’s operation. The Taliban could not be immediately contacted for comment.

Also on Wednesday, a soldier from the NATO-led force operating in Afghanistan was killed by a blast in another part of Helmand province, the defense ministry added.

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