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50 Suspected Taleban Insurgents Killed in Afghanistan - 2004-08-03

U.S-led coalition forces in Afghanistan say they have killed up to 50 suspected insurgents linked to the ousted Taleban government.

The fighting in the eastern province of Khost erupted Monday morning after Taleban insurgents attacked a military post in the region, which borders Pakistan.

A U.S. military spokesman, Major Rick Peat, says the coalition forces called in air support to repel a force of about 50 militants. He describes the fighting as some of the heaviest within the past two years. "They attacked the outpost with rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire, and the Afghan forces, along with a very small contingent of U.S coalition forces, repelled their attack," he says.

The spokesman could not confirm whether the enemy force came from the Pakistani side of the border, where Afghan and U.S. officials suspect Taleban militants have found refuge for raids into Afghanistan.

"We don't have any positive indication," says Major Peak. "I do know that when they fled they left in the direction of the Pakistani border."

Taleban militants and their allies have increased their attacks on local and foreign targets, as well as aid and election workers, over recent months.

The violence is apparently aimed at disrupting Afghanistan's first post-war elections scheduled for October. The Taleban see these elections as a ploy by the United States to dominate the country.

The U.S.-led coalition is hunting these militants and has promised to ensure security during the elections.