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US MIlitary: 80 Taliban Killed in Afghan Fighting

  • VOA News

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan says it has killed more than 80 Taliban fighters during a six-hour battle in the south of the country.

Coalition spokesman Major Chris Belcher says the fighting began Saturday when the Taliban tried to ambush a patrol of Afghan and international soldiers in Musa Qala in Helmand province.

He says the troops called in air support, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Taliban fighters. Belcher says there were no coalition or Afghan troop casualties, and no reports of civilian deaths.

Helmand province is a major poppy growing region where opium production helps fund the Taliban insurgency.

Also on Saturday, US and Afghan officials said a suicide bomber dressed in a security uniform blew himself up near an American military base in eastern Afghanistan, killing four Afghan soldiers and one civilian.

The officials said at least five Afghan civilians were wounded in the attack in Paktika province.

This year has been one of the deadliest in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001. Resurgent Taliban forces, benefiting from the country's booming opium trade, have regrouped in the south and east of the country.

But in an interview with US-broadcaster CBS News, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for the US-led coalition to curtail the use of airstrikes because they are killing too many civilians.

US and NATO officials say every use of air power is carefully considered and procedures try to minimize the risk to civilians.

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