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Dozens of Suspected Taleban Fighters Killed in Afghanistan - 2003-08-30

Afghan and Western military forces are reported to have killed dozens of suspected Taleban militants in a week of fighting in southern Afghanistan.

The fighting continued throughout the week, mostly in the Dai Chopan mountains in the southern province of Zabul.

The fighting has pitted Afghan troops and forces of a U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition against suspected insurgents from the ousted Taleban government.

U.S. military officials say at least 33 rebels were killed between Monday and Wednesday. Many of them were reportedly killed in relentless attacks by U.S. and allied warplanes.

Afghan commanders said that through Friday, nearly 100 rebels had been killed.

The U.S. military says an American special forces soldier also died from a fall during night operations against the insurgents.

Members of the Taleban have been waging a low-level guerilla war against the internationally-backed government of President Hamid Karzai. Afghan government officials allege that much of the rebel activity is originating in bases in neighboring Pakistan, a charge Pakistani authorities have repeatedly denied.

Some observers believe resentment by the country's majority Pashtun ethnic group, who feel they are under-represented in Mr. Karzai's government, could be benefiting the Taleban. Professor Barnett Rubin runs the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.

"Apparently the Taleban are becoming re-organized and are able to move out, move around in larger groups and are still enjoying sanctuary in parts of Pakistan, and still benefit from resentment on the part of certain portions of the Afghan public against the current government, that is mainly among tribal Pashtuns in southern and southeastern Afghanistan," he said.

The U.S. led anti-terrorism coalition of more than 12,000 troops has been hunting down remnants of the Taleban and the al-Qaida terrorist network in Afghanistan. A separate international military group maintains stability in the capital, Kabul.

The insurgents have increased their attacks in recent days, targeting foreign and Afghan forces as well as workers for Western aid agencies.