Ten Taliban killed in Afghan firefights-US military

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KABUL, Sep 14 (Reuters) Afghan and US-led coalition troops killed 10 Islamist Taliban guerrillas in firefights in the restive south today, the US military said, the latest in a rash of clashes amid raging insurgency.

Five Taliban fighters were killed in a raid on a suspected insurgent compound in the province of Helmand, and five more in a raid on a guerrilla hideout in the province of Ghazni.

''They were killed in firefights,'' a US military spokesman said.

In the Helmand raid, troops also recovered caches of opium and weapons including rocket-propelled grenades.

There was no independent confirmation of who was shot, and the resurgent Islamist Taliban, who are resorting increasingly to suicide bombings against Afghan and Western troops, were not immediately available for comment.

The raids came after the US military said coalition airstrikes killed more than 45 Islamist Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, the US military said.

In separate incidents on Wednesday, an Afghan security guard was killed in a roadside bomb attack in the eastern province of Paktia, while a Bangladeshi national was shot dead in the north-eastern province of Badakshan by suspected insurgents, officials said.

The US-led military says coalition forces have killed hundreds of Taliban militants in a series of confrontations in recent weeks. The Taliban have admitted some losses, but say Afghan and foreign troops vastly exaggerate enemy death tolls.

More than 7,000 people have been killed during the past 19 months in Afghanistan, the bloodiest period since the militants' 2001 ouster.

REUTERS SBC VC1545

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