WORLD / Asia-Pacific

64 killed in S. Afghanistan fighting
Updated: 2006-05-24 19:00

Afghan security forces clashed with Taliban militants in a firefight in southern Afghanistan, killing 60 insurgents and four soldiers, an Afghan official said Wednesday.

An Afghan boy, who got wounded by a coalition airstrike in Panjwai district of Kandahar province, is carried for treatment at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Monday, May 22, 2006. [AP]

Army Gen. Rehmatullah Raufi said the fight took place in Uruzgan province Tuesday evening and that the bodies of about 60 militants had been recovered. He said four Afghan soldiers were killed.

The number of casualties is difficult to confirm independently because the scene of the fighting was remote and could not be immediately reached.

Coalition airstrikes were called in toward the end of the battle, said Raufi, the military commander for southern Afghanistan. A spokesman for the coalition couldn't immediately confirm this.

The fighting began in a small village in Tirin Kot district before the militants fled higher into the mountains, Raufi said. It was there that airstrikes bombed Taliban positions, he said.

In the past year, Uruzgan has been the site of some of the heaviest fighting in Afghanistan, but militants suffered high losses in multiple battles with coalition forces, and the violence there has subsided in recent months.

On Friday, a U.S. soldier was killed and seven wounded in a battle in southern Uruzgan that also saw 20 Taliban militants killed.

Militants have stepped up attacks in the last several months, particularly in Afghanistan's southern and eastern regions near its border with Pakistan. Thousands more NATO forces are scheduled to move into the areas later this summer.


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