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Afghan troops kill 30 militants
Kabul, Mar 20 (Agencies):
Published on 21 Mar. 2009 12:51 AM IST
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The US military said Friday that Afghan and international troops had killed 30 militants in Afghanistan's province of Helmand, a flashpoint region where the Taliban control several districts. The heavy clash yesterday was in the Gereshk district where a prominent anti-Taliban parliamentarian was killed in a bomb planted by the insurgents the same day. The Afghan army had led a patrol of soldiers into an area where militants were known to operate, the US military said in a statement. "The patrol was attacked by numerous armed militants with heavy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire," it said. After ensuring there were no civilians present, "the combined element returned fire with small-arms and close air support, killing 30 militants," it said. There was no way to independently verify the toll. "This engagement was yet another blow to the militants, who are quickly losing their ability to operate in Helmand Province," a coalition spokesman said in the statement. "The Afghan National Army is working to rid Afghanistan of extremists who are only trying to destabilize the country and sabotage Afghan freedom," the official said. Yesterday, key anti-Taliban lawmaker Dad Mohammad Khan was killed with three of his bodyguards and a senior policeman when a bomb tore through their vehicle in Gereshk. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast.

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