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Afghan Forces Said to Kill 31 Taleban Insurgents


Afghan defense forces have reportedly killed 31 suspected insurgents in intense fighting near the Pakistani border.

Afghan military officials say Taleban insurgents attacked a military outpost in Eastern Afghanistan on Sunday.

Military spokesman Mohammed Zaher Azimi told reporters the fighting in Paktika Province lasted more than four hours, and government forces killed at least 28 militants. He says the military also captured insurgent weaponry, including ammunition, anti-aircraft shells, and rocket launchers.

In the same region Sunday, suspected Taleban insurgents attacked a truck hauling supplies to U.S.-led coalition forces. Officials claim three militants were killed in a fight that followed, and two others arrested.

The fighting is the heaviest reported since a brief lull following last month's landmark parliamentary elections.

In the past seven months, leading up to the elections, militants have intensified their anti-government attacks. More than a thousand people, mostly insurgents, have been killed, chiefly in Afghanistan's restive southern and eastern provinces.

Afghan officials claim many of the insurgents are now based just over the border in Pakistan, where they are receiving material support and training from local sympathizers.

Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, without specifically naming Pakistan, recently insisted that the fight against Taleban militants cannot stop at the border.

"We believe the best way would be to go and stop where terrorists are trained, where terrorists are funded, and remove them," said President Karzai.

Officials here sharply deny the allegation, but Pakistan has stepped up military operations on its side of the border.

Since last Thursday, helicopter gunships and Pakistani ground forces have been pounding suspected insurgent hideouts in North Waziristan, a remote tribal region that straddles the Afghan border and is a suspected stronghold for Islamic militants with ties to the Taleban and al-Qaida.

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