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Taliban Take Over Villages in Southern Afghanistan


Hundreds of Taliban insurgents took over several villages near Afghanistan's second largest city, Kandahar, Monday, forcing Afghan and NATO troops to redeploy in the region.

Officials say that some 500 Taliban fighters captured the villages in southern Arghandab district -- just three days after a Taliban assault on Kandahar's main prison that freed hundreds of inmates, including many insurgents.

The Associated Press quoted a local resident as saying the Taliban told villagers to leave and that insurgents were planting mines everywhere.

A NATO civilian spokesman, Mark Laity, said the jailbreak put a lot of militants back into circulation, but that the Afghan and NATO forces will respond to any potential threats.

Afghan and foreign forces have been battling Taliban insurgents since the U.S.-led coalition pushed the Taliban government from power in 2001.

NATO has about 53,000 troops in Afghanistan. The United States has contributed nearly half of the troops, and has called on other alliance members for an increased commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

Britain announced Monday it will send 230 more troops to Afghanistan to help the fight, bringing the total British commitment to more than eight thousand by early 2009.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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