Afghan and NATO forces have launched a major offensive against Taliban
militants in southern Afghanistan -- killing at least 35 insurgents.
The Afghan defense ministry says two Afghan army officers were also killed today (Wednesday) during clashes in Arghandab and neighboring districts, south of Kandahar city.
NATO officials say nearly one thousand Afghan army and NATO troops are
using helicopter gunships to expel militants from the region. In an
interview with VOA (Afghan Service), a NATO spokesman Mark Laity says troops have met with little resistance, saying the number of insurgents may have been exaggerated by the Taliban.
Dozens of Taliban fighters swarmed into the area Monday, blowing up
bridges and planting land mines -- days after a massive jail break from
Kandahar's main prison.
A Taliban spokesman says militants want to capture Arghandab to launch
attacks on Kandahar. The area is lush with pomegranate groves,
considered an easy hide-out for militants.
A Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman on Wednesday
said there are a number of reasons for increased military capability in
Kandahar province -- including the region's opium production and the
recent jail break.
The head of Kandahar's provincial council ,Ahmed Wali Karzai brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai says
at least 15-hundred families in the area have left their homes. He says
the government is making arrangements for displaced residents, and
offering compensation to those whose homes are destroyed.
Also on Wednesday, NATO officials say two soldiers were killed and 10 others injured during a patrol in eastern Paktika province.
And the British defense ministry says four of its soldiers were killed
by a roadside blast Tuesday during an operation in southern Helmand