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Afghan Violence Kills 16


The U.S. military says Afghan and international troops have killed 14 Taliban militants in the latest fighting, while two civilians were killed by an insurgent rocket that landed on their home.

U.S.-led coalition and Afghan forces say they killed five militants in Ghazni province early Monday. Nine Taliban insurgents were killed Sunday in another joint operation in the same area.

The civilian casualties occurred when a rocket aimed at a foreign troop base in Khost missed its target and landed on a house. An elderly woman and a child died, three other people were injured.

The fighting came as the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. Army General David McKiernan, criticized media reports alleging that NATO and Afghan forces were losing the war.

However, the general did acknowledge he would like more troops to fight the insurgency.

General McKiernan told reporters in Kabul that international forces are taking unprecedented measures to prevent civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

The comments came as Afghan and international forces said about 100 Taliban fighters were killed in two recent battles in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Troops backed by airstrikes killed about 60 Taliban, who tried to attack the provincial capital of Laskhar Gah Sunday.

Officials say another 40 militants were killed in a three-day operation that ended Saturday in Helmand's Nad Ali district. The casualties have not been independently verified.

General McKiernan says he has not heard any reports of civilian casualties in the battle at Lashkar Gah.

The Taliban have a strong presence in Helmand, Afghanistan's main opium-producing province. Officials say the militants have established links to other extremists and drug traders in the area.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.


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