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Afghan, US forces raid Taliban hideout
Updated: 2005-09-01 09:32

Afghan and U.S. ground troops, backed by attack helicopters, raided a Taliban camp in the mountains of southern Afghanistan, killing nine suspected militants, officials said Wednesday.

The camp in Uruzgan province had been used as a base by about 80 insurgents from where they launched guerrilla-style assaults on Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces in the area, said provincial Gov. Jan Mohammed Khan.

American helicopters pounded the site with rockets before ground forces moved in. Several AK-47 assault rifles, rockets, as well as tents, kettles and other camping equipment were scattered around the area, the governor said.

A U.S. military statement said nine suspected militants were killed. Khan said the rest of the rebels fled during Tuesday's attack on the camp, which had been set up in several adjoining mountain caves.

The attack was the latest in a major offensive against the Taliban fighters ahead of crucial legislative elections next month which officials say the militants hope to undermine.

Fighting has escalated over the past six months, leaving more than 1,100 people dead. NATO's top commander on Tuesday said the surge in violence came from a desperate group of fanatics and criminals, but did not pose a major threat to Afghanistan's stability ahead of the Sept. 18 vote.

Separate fighting also broke out in Asadabad town, eastern Kunar province, when five suspected rebels tried to attack a joint patrol by Afghan troops and U.S. Marines, the military statement said.

The statement said it was still unclear how many militants were killed, but that no Afghan or U.S. troops were wounded in either battle.

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