Coalition kills 15 Afghan rebels, 3 civilians

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KABUL, Nov 12 (Reuters) U S-led coalition forces killed around 15 militants, but also a woman and two children, during an operation in southern Afghanistan, the US military said in a statement today.

Coalition forces were searching several buildings in the Garmser district of Helmand province yesterday to detain suspects involved in the supply of bombs when the militants opened fire.

''During one of the engagements, several militants barricaded themselves in a building on the compound and engaged coalition forces with a high volume of gunfire,'' the statement said.

''Coalition forces used a single grenade which killed the attacking militants. However, the building the militants were fighting from collapsed,'' it said.

Troops later found a woman and two children dead in the collapsed building alongside the dead militants.

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly warned international forces operating in Afghanistan that civilian casualties risk losing support for his government and fuelling resentment against the presence of foreign troops in the country.

About 300 civilians have been killed in operations by Afghan and international troops targeted at Taliban insurgents, according to figures cited by the United Nations.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed two soldiers from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, the NATO-led force said in a statement.

It did not disclose the nationalities of the soldiers, but most ISAF troops in eastern Afghanistan are American.

Taliban insurgents killed four Afghan policemen and wounded one more in an attack on a police checkpoint in the centre of the city of Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, late yesterday night, provincial police official said on Monday.

Afghanistan has seen a high rise in violence in the last two years and some 7,000 people have lost their lives during that period in insurgency-related incidents.

REUTERS PJ HT2252

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