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60 Taleban Rebels Reported Killed in Heavy Fighting


U.S-led coalition and Afghan forces say they have killed at least 60 suspected insurgents in fighting that broke out Tuesday in southern Afghanistan.

U.S military officials say the fighting broke out Tuesday in a mountainous district of the southern province of Kandahar, where coalition and Afghan forces were on a "search-and-attack" mission to eliminate rebel safe havens.

Local security officials say nearly 60 insurgents have been killed in the fighting. However, a coalition spokeswoman, Lt. Cindy Moore, puts the number at around 40 insurgents. She said an Afghan police officer was also killed in the initial clashes. "They were killed in fighting southwest of Deh Chopan after Afghan and coalition units were attacked with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades … Coalition warplanes and attack helicopters hammered enemy positions throughout the evening," she said.

Five U.S soldiers and two Afghan policemen were wounded in the fighting, which reportedly lasted for more than 10 hours. Local officials say more clashes took place in the area on Wednesday, without giving further details.

The U.S military has vowed it will continue to pursue the insurgents. Provinces in southern Afghanistan were considered strongholds of the now-ousted Taleban regime.

Taleban militants have increased guerilla attacks in the past few months, killing hundreds of people. The violence has raised security concerns for parliamentary elections to he held in September.